‘Do not remember the things of old,’ the Prophet says. I’m actually pretty good at that one; I have a hard time remembering what happened yesterday, let alone the things of old. Something comes in one ear and, unless I write it down, out the other. Anybody have that trouble?
But we are disciples, and so we commit ourselves to learning together. We are on a lifelong journey of seeking truth together, and we are blessed in that journey. Reading and learning, both individually and together, are spiritual disciplines that help us grow deeper roots of faith and a clearer understanding of God’s will and purpose for our lives and for the Church.
Listening is essential for all of us at such a time as this in the world and in the Church when there is so much fracture and division and finger pointing, when we tend to be better at shouting at each other than hearing one another. And it’s important for us to listen especially closely to those who are often devalued or sent away.
What would we do if we had the time to do whatever we wanted? It’s funny how quickly we qualify our answers with limitations. “If I had more money, I would…” “If my health was better, I would…” “If I had a college degree, I would…” “If I (fill in the blank), I would…” Knowing the limitations in our lives, and knowing the gifts and blessings in our lives, what would we do with more time?
When we look at other people, we also rarely see the whole picture. This is true both when we are comparing our lives with others, and when we are judging other people. While I was pastoring a church in Alaska, I remember a couple asking, “Why are we the only ones who have problems?” At first I thought they were joking. They weren’t joking. They seemed surprised when I told them everyone has problems (then they left the church). It’s easy for us to miss the struggles other people are dealing with. It is best for us to be slow to compare, and even slower to judge!
One of the most striking things I’ve learned about Jesus is how he could see the “invisible people”. Story after story in the Bible tells us how Jesus saw all people. A favorite for me is the healing of the ten lepers (Luke 17:11-19). No matter their previous stations in life, lepers became invisible. It was a death sentence with no cure. Jesus, however, saw them. As followers of Christ, who do we see? Are we able to see all people?