Hearing the Master's Voice
We ask in the collect for the day today (see the previous post) for God to give us grace to answer the call of our savior and to proclaim to all the world the Good News of his (to us, meaning our!) salvation. Our proclamation of that Good News is how the world will understand just what a Big Deal this is, this salvation. And that Good News does not reflect upon us, but reflects God's glory. The point of our witness is to point to the goodness and marvelousness of God.
The trick is to be able to hear God's call to us in specific situations and to reflect God's glory in the world in the midst of normal, every day life. So often we focus on having some kind of conversion, of acknowledging God's claim on us, apart from the rest of our lives. As if it is extra, this grace and this salvation; as if it is something tacked on at the end so that we know we will end up in heaven. The part about living out our faith in ordinary times seems harder to figure out.
Apart from standing on the street corner, preaching to the crowds as they go by (which happens even here in Williamsburg, Virginia!), which is not something that many of us feel called to do, how does one witness in every day life? How does one live out the Gospel at the grocery store or the golf course?
The people I know who seem to be witnessing in this way are people who are steeped in a life of prayer themselves. They engage in regular practices of prayer - the listening kind, not the talking kind - and seem to stay grounded in that listening. They don't seem to be in such a hurry to make proclamations. But you can tell that they are listening, and they are not only listening to God but they are listening to the people around them. They always have time to listen. They always have time to slow down and engage and smile and touch and you can see in their eyes that they care.
It is that caring, that taking time to attend to people (often to people who are hurting), that is the witness. While many of us are aware of God's speaking to us through Scripture and through nature and through people, many of us also experience God's silence in the face of our outpourings. I am beginning to see that silence not as non-response but as God's listening.
And so today I commend listening to our companions in the way as a way to witness to God's own listening and a way for us to listen ourselves for God's reminder to us that the world is full of hurt and brokenness and sometimes all we can do in the face of that is companionable listening.