Listen

My eldest daughter, Rebekah, has  just turned two. She’s loud, loveable, wild, cute (and she knows it), and she’s a talker.

When our youngest daughter, Lydia was born, Rebekah speech went full steam ahead. We spent so long encouraging her to talk, but now the challenge is getting her to turn the volume down.

She’s say the same thing over and over again until she gets our attention or gets what she wants. She doesn’t tend to get angry if we haven’t responded, but does keep talking till we do.

My wife and I have to listen carefully, because sometimes it’s hard to tell what she’s saying. For example… nope is actually milk, Anna could be Joanna, Nana, Hannah or Banana, yesu means love you.

In Revelation chapters 2 and 3 we find the seven letters to the churches. Each letter is sent to different places, different contexts, addressing different issues, but as I was reading them recently I noticed something that I’ve noticed, but not really noticed before. In every one of 7 letters, same sentence…

“Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the Churches”

It struck me. Why? Firstly, it says ‘an ear’. Not two ears, but an ear. Just an ear. I was suddenly aware of how easy listening to the Spirit this passage suggests it should be, it just needs an ear. Listening is no elitist task, but something anyone can do.

I’m also struck by the word saying. It doesn’t say ‘what the Spirit says the churches’, as if what has been penned in Revelation on those letters is a finite message, but ‘saying’, suggesting the Spirit continues to speak, continues to need to be listened to, continues to be relevant, that these letters we read in Revelation are just a pit stop, or refocusing for the seven churches on their journeys.

What the passage in Revelation fails to do is lay out the recipe for listening to what the Spirit is saying. There’s no 5 steps to listening to what the Spirit is saying to the churches, just the one instruction which  I can hear God saying again and again, just like my daughter Rebekah does when she wants my attention……

“Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the Churches”

In my first half term at Queens I’ve discovered something…this listening business isn’t as easy as I thought it would be at theological college.

I spend all day talking about God, words and noise are all around us and as a student I spend all week trying to work out what information to remember and what it may be safe to forget. In amongst what can seem like a cacophony of sound, I’ve found it challenging to really listen to God in amongst all the talk about God.

The Spirit is speaking to the churches all the time. Speaking to us all the time. The challenge is actually listening. Intentional listening, being attentive, choosing to listen.

So wherever you are, listen to what the Spirit is saying to the Churches

Whatever you’re doing, listen to what the Spirit is saying to the Churches

In worship, in singing, in silence, in prayer, listen to what the Spirit is saying to the Churches.

Choose to listen to what the Spirit is saying to you.

Adapted from a message preached at The Queens Foundation, Birmingham, 3rd November 2016

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