From the very beginning of The Table, as a community we have sought to embody four core practices: Welcoming, Listening, Gospeling, and Going (Joining). We are in a series of sharing briefly about each of these core practices. Last week Fr. Spencer reflected on Welcoming. Today’s practice is Listening.
It seems that (real) listening is a lost art today. We know how to listen for what we want to hear, or to respond, or to gather ammunition for an argument. But the kind of listening we seek to embrace at The Table is a deep openness to the other charged with the possibility of being changed by the other.
Jesus practiced this kind of listening. Even though many sought answers from him, he consistently asked questions of people and created an environment where they could discover and name what they really wanted, what was truly important to them.
So we seek to becoming a Listening people. We listen together for God’s voice in our midst, we listen to one another, and we listen to those we welcome in from our neighborhoods and networks, knowing this is the entry point for knowing one another and being known, for love.
We practice mutual submission with one another, honoring the presence and leadership of Christ in our midst, trusting that we are listening for God’s will as we submit our observations and feelings to one another, refusing to lord power over others as well as refusing to abdicate the responsibility of leadership.
We also practice communal discernment together. We discern God’s leading together as we submit to one another. We seek to find out what “seems good to the Holy Spirit and to us” (Acts 15:28), understanding that God speaks to us as a community through the community. We all contribute and we all interpret what God is up to (1 Cor 14:26-28).
Lots of cultural factors these days make it more and more difficult to maintain a posture of listening openness to others, but this is our calling and commitment as the Body of Christ. We trust that as we do so, we will discern God’s will among us and be transformed into Christlikeness. Let us continue to do the good work of listening to one another as we seek to stay in step with the Holy Spirit.
Grace and peace,