Dear Siblings in Christ,

The past week has been difficult. If you’ve been tuning into the news, it seems the world is falling apart at the seams! Pandemic, racism, riots, social distancing – they’ve all become a part of our vocabulary these past days and weeks. It’s been heavy. It’s been bleak.

So how do we as God’s people live? How do we experience the freedom and joy of the gospel? How do we embrace peace, gratitude, and hopefulness?

We pray.

So what exactly is prayer? I think most of us would answer that prayer is a conversation with God. It’s where we share those things that are in our heart, whether joy-filled, bitter and angry, disappointment, and pretty much everything in between. Prayer is that time and place where we can lay ourselves bare at God’s feet as we confess our failures, plead for loved ones or for ourselves, jump for joy for grace we have received, quietly give thanks. It is that one place in all creation where we can be open and honest, sharing the deepest places of our lives.

My guess is many of us have become good at talking to God. We share our concerns and our sorrows, our joys and hopes. But prayer is a two-way enterprise. I was reminded of this when I was scrolling through Facebook today and a post came up reminding me that prayer involves both speaking and listening.

I must confess that more often than I like to admit, my prayer time involves me talking at God, then going on about the rest of my day. I have a habit of talking, then forgetting to listen to what God may have to say to me. Yet when I pray and ask God for help, for guidance, for hope, don’t I also expect God to answer? Maybe, if I’m being completely honest, I don’t.

But of course God answers. God comes to us in so many ways. Sometimes it happens when I’m
talking to someone and all of a sudden, the answer to prayer is right there. Sometimes it pops into my head seemingly from nowhere. Sometimes it is almost instantaneous. And sometimes it takes a long time to discern God breaking into my life.

I need to be reminded to listen. And in these weeks, I really need to be reminded!

How do you listen for God’s voice, God’s guidance, God’s presence? As I’ve shared so many times, puttering away in my garden is where God usually seems to find me. When I get my hands dirty, covered in the earth of God’s good creation, I find I am more open to God speaking to me. When I play with the plants God has painted into an amazing landscape, I often see God’s face. When I’m watering my garden, I remember that water drew me into God’s embrace through baptism, and I am again surprised by that grace and that loving presence.

Is there a place you are more open to hearing God’s voice? Is there a time you you are drawn to wait and listen for God’s answer to prayer? In these days and weeks of uncertainty, I pray that God will surprise you with grace and love. I pray that your eyes will be opened to God’s wonder and beauty. I pray that you will feel God’s comfort wrap around you like a cozy warm blanket.

Jesus taught his disciples to pray by addressing God as “Our Father,” to know God in that intimate, family relationship. The writers of the psalms opened themselves fully, lamenting, praising, thanking, and reflecting. God calls all of us to share the depths of our hearts. To rant, to complain, to cry out with joy, to laugh, to plead. And God calls us to listen for that voice that may come out of nowhere when we least expect it.

The apostle Paul wrote that the Spirit intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words. What great news! Even when we don’t speak, God hears us! And even when we aren’t listening, God speaks to us and walks with us.

So find a place. Take time. Quiet your mind. Be still. And listen. Listen to the voice of God that will always come with love, with comfort, and with hope.

Blessings and peace as you hear and see the wonder and beauty of God!

Pastor Joanne

I share with you a poem I discovered this week that reminds me of God who draws me into my garden to plant and play, to dig in the dirt, and nurture a place where I can dwell intimately with God, the greatest gardener of all.

Planting the Meadow
Mary Makofske

I leave the formal garden of schedules
where hours hedge me, clip the errant sprigs
of thought, and day after day, a boxwood
topiary hunt chases a green fox
never caught. No voice calls me to order
as I enter a dream of meadow, kneel
to earth and, moving east to west, second
the motion only of the sun. I plant
frail seedlings in the unplowed field, trusting
the wildness hidden in their hearts. Spring light
sprawls across false indigo and hyssop,
daisies, flax. Clouds form, dissolve, withhold
or promise rain. In time, outside of time,
the unkempt afternoons fill up with flowers.

Source: Poetry