Lessons Learned at QA: Lesson #1

For the Mix in ’06, the QA we partnered with the UCC women, I was invited to be the communion director which involved getting a chalice from each region to QA (and making sure they got picked up) and teaching women who spoke a dozen different languages (which I do not speak) how to serve 3000(?) women a communion meal during worship. It was an amazing experience and I remembered going home having learned very clearly that smiles communicate a great deal in that situation. The rest of my communication was miming…not sure what my skills are there but everyone was fed and we worshiped together.Communion Table

Other than that I had not experienced a Quadrennial Assembly from the point of view of the planning team. It is an outrageous and impossible job and yet we had dozens of women agree to give of themselves and their time to make it happen…and they did, indeed, make it happen.

As the planning began and we worked together to hear God’s call and what theme might reflect that, we were very excited about having a direction. As plans took on more shape there were new ideas that popped up and grew and we got very excited about. Suddenly, it felt like we were planning three different events and trying to roll them all into one package. Under Arlene Pimentel’s and Michelle White’s leadership it all came together and we were blessed.

2014 QA logo OFFICIAL

Through the planning we dreamed of what we wanted the women attending to know about God and about each other. We planned moments where we thought God would be clearly present and evident to all who attended. Some of the team had very clear pictures of how things would work and flow and come together and were certain that God would speak. But even with the large numbers of women who gave of themselves to make this happen we can never keep God confined to our planning or even our vision.

 

One of the pre-events of QA is a dinner with the International Sisters sponsored by Division of Overseas Ministries/Global Ministries. The dinner this year was held at a local church only a few blocks away. The day was spent in preparing the stage in the plenary hall, dressing the worship space, etc. and with a little time left I went and changed out of work clotmulticolored womenhes into appropriate dinner attire to welcome our International Sisters. As I walked toward the church the dark clouds started rolling in but since it was a short distance I decided it wasn’t necessary to go back for an umbrella but one block away my mistake was clear when the skies opened up with a torrential downpour. I ran under an awning at a rental car space to try to stay sheltered in hopes that the storm would pass or slow down enough that I could make it the rest of the way to the church. As I tucked into my dry haven and the water pooled at all the low places in the street I could see that if I were patient it would slow down enough for me to make it the rest of the way to the church. As I stood in my alcove a bus went flying by that sent a tsunami of rain water up over me drenching me completely.

bus splashing water

Now what? This was ridiculous and impossible. I might as well just go back to the hotel and give up. But…as I waited for a break in the weather I remembered the stories of how some women visiting our international sisters were met by women who had walked for two weeks to greet them….two weeks! How could I walk away because I was wet when our sisters had walked two weeks to show hospitality?!

I decided I was fully drenched and it made no sense to wait so I began the resman with umbrellat of the walk to the church. As it turned out when I arrived at the church the doors were all locked. I buzzed the intercom and was told that the dinner was being held at the annex which was a block and half back the way I had come. Already determined that I would show up regardless, I started back around the church and out on to the sidewalk in the rain. A man was coming the other way looking quite sane carrying an umbrella…as anyone with some sense would do. As he approached me he turned around and stood with me with his umbrella over both of us. He asked me if I was lost…well, that was the nicest question he could ask someone who looked like me rather than making a judgment about my ability to be rational or worse. I told him the address and he said, “I’ll take you there.” He then turned away from his original direction to walk me back to where I was headed all the while making small talk to distract me from my physical state. He brought me right to the door of the hall where the dinner was and I said my goodbyes and tried to enter as inconspicuously as someone dripping wet might be able to do.

So, now, lesson #1. In spite of all the planning, working, struggling, dreaming, praying about making space for God to show up…God always shows up and God shows up at the most unexpected times and reminds us that we are blessed with other travelers on this journey who are blessings to us and for whom we may also be a blessing.

when god shows up

Be open to those God puts in your life as blessings and reminders of God’s presence.
Peace, Pat

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Bring Back Our Girls

While we have been studying, researching, and advocating against Human Trafficking we have continually been shocked by the lengths that traffickers will go to in order to keep their profits up and keep a constant flow of slaves. We have become aware of many forms human trafficking takes and numerous motives traffickers have for treating human beings like commodities. But, just when we realize how devious and underhanded traffickers are, we are confronted by the militant group Boko Haram (which means ‘Western education is sin/forbidden’). These acts are malicious and belligerent; there is no move to be hidden or subtle.

Schoolgirls were attacked, abducted, and taken in the night, kidnapped from their beds and forced into trucks, because Boko Haram has determined that girls should not receive western education; they should instead be getting married. 276 girls were taken and at least 53 managed to escape leaving roughly 223 girls in captivity. The leader is promising to sell the girls…at roughly $12.00 each. The leader posted a video where he says, “I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market.” “There is a market for selling humans. Allah says I should sell. He commands me to sell. I will sell women. I sell women,” he continues, according to a CNN translation from the local Hausa language.

 

Once again we are confronted by violence against women.

Their crime? Wanting to pursue an education.

Their punishment? Being sold into slavery.

It’s time for governments near and far to take seriously the crimes against women and children. Pray for the release of these young women back to their school and families. Pay attention to how the U.S. and the Nigerian government address the recovery of these students, then act where you can to advocate and inspire them to provide rescue and safety that they might continue their education without fear for their personal safety.

We are called to speak for these young women and against all forms of violence against women and children.

#BringBackOurGirls

What is Christmas all about?

Charlie Brown’s Christmas special may not be your favorite, but, for me, it’s right up there. It nearly didn’t make network television: it moved too slowly for a special, it didn’t have a laugh track which was thought to be a necessity, the writers insisted on real kids instead of actors, and, of course, there was all that religious content…the climax of the special was quoting Scripture.

 In spite of the network concerns, the creator held steady and refused to edit the content. “A Charlie Brown Christmas” appeared first on network television in 1965. Over 15 million televisions tuned in and almost half of the nation was watching. That week it was number 2 in the ratings, won an Emmy and a Peabody.

 Charlie Brown has been telling us the story of Christmas for nearly fifty years. Written by Charles Schultz and produced by Lee Mendelson, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” pointed out what we discuss every year at this time…the commercialization of Christmas versus the true meaning of the season.

 

About this time each year we ask the question Charlie asks, “Isn’t there anyone out there who can tell me what Christmas is all about?”

What is Christmas all about? Can you tell the story?

Different images speak to different people in different ways. One image I have seen is the image of Santa kneeling at the manger where Jesus is resting as a newborn baby. For me, this is jarring, confusing, and on some days even offensive. The suggestion that Santa was already at work before the birth of Jesus negates what God is doing in the birth of the Christ Child.

I like all the Christmas trimmings…lights, decorations, multiple trees, baking, cooking, wrapping, and, yes, even shopping. I have an angel collection and a snowman collection and a Santa collection; I have surrendered my Christmas carousel collection. (I have been accused of excess when it comes to Christmas decorating.)

But the idea that Jesus conveniently arrived on a day when Santa was already providing presents destroys the whole idea for me. If we don’t connect the gift of God with the gifts we share with one another we lose the symbolism of the joy there is in both giving and receiving gifts. When we give the ‘perfect’ gift to a loved one we get as much, or more, joy from it than they do. Sharing the Good News is like that: seeing the light in someone’s eyes, hearing the hope in their words, when they realize that God loves them so much that God would send Jesus as a gift to show us the extent of that love, to communicate with us on our level, to show us how to live…that is a gift beyond compare. Having the opportunity to point to the joy and love in someone’s life and say, “See that, that’s God…that’s the love of God all around you,” that is priceless. To add to that the joy of giving to one another as God has given to us is not a stretch…but God first loved us, God first gave to us.

That’s my Christmas story. How do you tell yours? Is there hope and love and Good News in your story? I hope so; I hope that you get to experience the joy of giving and the grace of receiving thankfully.

“For unto you this day is born in the City of Bethlehem, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”

Christmas blessings from all of us at Disciples Women

That Just Happened

$10.03

A ladder.

Going back.

What do they have in common?

They just happened. No one predicted it. No one was expecting it to become national news. It just happened.

On the news this morning a search for a young boy was concluded when someone on Facebook recognized him on the video shot in a police station. His class had just learned about the sacrifice of police and many others during the time following the 9/11 attacks. It made an impression on him and so he decided to take all the money he had saved up and deliver it to the local police station as a ‘thank you’ for what they do for other people…his whole savings of $10.03.

An apartment building was on fire and a man appeared in one of the windows, so frightened by the approaching flames and the billowing smoke all around him that he was about to jump to escape. Another man on a balcony several feet away stopped him and tried to step on a windowsill to reach the man but just could not quite span the breach. Another man on a lower balcony got a long ladder and they used it to bridge the gap between the window below the man and the balcony below the first man. The man on the second balcony walked across the ladder precariously balanced to help steady the man as he lowered himself from the window with the fire behind it and safely landed on the ladder and both crossed back to the balcony to safety.

Yesterday in the midst of the shooting at the Navy Yard where twelve people were killed by a gunman who also died there was chaos. People were running for their lives, trying to get away from the person who was shooting at what was, apparently, indiscriminate targets. One man went back for a coworker who was blind. He got hold of him and led him to safety as well; with chaos all around he had the presence of mind and quality of character to go and lead his coworker to safety.

These are God’s children…these are the people who live among us…the heroes and sheroes of the world who live their lives in recognition that we are all connected, that we are all in this together. Yet, it rarely becomes news.

During the attacks on 9/11 I was unable to locate any of my family…my children were all in college…phone lines were tied up and I heard the tunnels and bridges into Pittsburgh had been closed trapping at least one of my children across the river in a place where rumors said that there were car bombings. (These rumors fortunately turned out to be untrue.) I had been in the doctor’s office when the attacks occurred and did not believe what people were saying until I heard Tom Brokaw say “the New York City skyline is changed forever.” Cold chills…reality…that just happened.

I left the doctor’s office and drove to my mother’s office to check in on her and make sure she was okay. Then….I didn’t know what to do with myself…so I went to the church….opened all the doors and rang the bells so the little town where I served would know the church doors were open. As I spoke with people who also had not been able to reach their families and who also were having trouble making sense of what had happened, I said, “I know that right now in the midst of the chaos and misery, there are people who are doing amazing acts of kindness and heroism.” I had no details; I only had my experience of the world God had given me.

God’s people are everywhere and often, when we least expect it, God’s children act like God’s children. Even when hate and fear is all we are currently experiencing, we can know that somewhere in the midst of it all people are doing loving, caring, amazing acts of kindness.

You probably have been one of those people at some time in your life and you are completely unaware of it. You have done some small act of kindness and without even knowing it you have made the day better, made someone feel a little better, and, possibly, completely changed someone’s life.

We are all in this together. When we feel frightened and anxious, may we have the presence of mind and the quality of character to act like the people God has created us to be.

I thank God for the good that has been done on my behalf without ever having done anything to deserve it.

Peace and blessings…it is a wonderful world.

God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. 

                                                                          Genesis 1:31a

Gaslighting

Do you ever think you are ‘odd’? Does it seem like those around you find things to be perfectly normal that make you uneasy?

There is an old movie called “Gaslight”. I learned about it when I studied Psychology. The movie was about a husband who kept manipulating his wife with the intent of convincing her that she was insane. In Psychology, gaslighting is a form of mental abuse where people are given false information to make them doubt their own sanity or memory.

I recently read an article about how men use this on women as emotional manipulation. According to this article it is common. Apparently when a man is called out for cheating or lying he denies the facts or twists them to the point that the woman starts to doubt her own information, then the man tells her she is crazy…eventually she starts to believe it. They use phrases like “You’re so sensitive. You’re so emotional. You’re overreacting. You’re so dramatic.” Maybe some of these sound familiar. When women react to the behavior of their partners, they are called ‘crazy.’  This form of emotional abuse is also used in the workplace to convince people that they are unsuitable for promotion or work in a different department. As I read the article I felt it was a plausible explanation for experiences I have had in my life.

Perhaps you can identify as well. Have you experienced this? Have you ever heard a story on the news about what the government or the police were doing and wondered, “how can this be? How does this make sense? Am I the only one who thinks that doesn’t make sense?” Is the world gaslighting us…trying to make us think that something that is clearly unjust is okay?

John 8:2-11 (NRSV)

 Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him and he sat down and began to teach them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, they said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery.  Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”  She said, “No one, sir.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.”

Were the scribes and Pharisees trying to gaslight Jesus? Were they pretending that only one person commits adultery? By definition there had to be someone else involved. There is no mention of the man and his participation in the adultery. Did they think if they acted like she was the only one to blame that Jesus would go along? The next part of the scripture just says they went away but I can imagine them muttering and possibly saying to one another, ‘he must be crazy.” The scribes and the Pharisees were usually not happy when Jesus pointed out their wrong thinking.

How often do we find ourselves in situations where it seems that the world around us, or even the church, does not see the injustice right before us? You may even have experienced the disapproving looks or been belittled because you held an understanding that was not the majority interpretation. Yet, as Christians, as citizens of the world, we are called to name injustice and to speak when it is not popular and attempt to speak even when we fear we do not have the right words.

We just celebrated the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Imagine what a painful, miserable society we would be living in if there were not those who went against the majority opinion to say “This isn’t right!”

We must be aware of those who might manipulate or even abuse us emotionally by trying to make us think there is something wrong with us when we see and name injustice. Be aware of those who might gaslight you…think for yourself…do your best to make good decisions even when they go against the grain of the masses.

So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9)

 

Enduring Fatigue

Virginia is considered to be a mountainous state. The University of Virginia did a study to see if their roads were as steep as they were perceived to be. By law, roads in Virginia can be inclined no more than 9 degrees. However, they found that when subjects of the study were shown a 5 degree hill, it was typically judged to be a 20 degree slant. Additionally, they discovered that the slant of these hills was judged to be even greater when the observer was already fatigued.

Most of us have discovered this second reality without the help of a university study. When life seems difficult and challenges are piling up around us, we can feel overwhelmed, yet we persist. We sometimes discover that in these situations it is the tiniest of challenges that ‘pushes us over the edge.’ After a week or a month of difficulties it is the non-functioning garbage disposal, or a stubbed toe on something left in the middle of the floor that makes us feel we cannot go on…that we are overburdened…and we want to give up.

But what also happens to many of us, often without realizing it, is the first of those findings. Depending upon our attitude, or mindset, or maybe just being part of humanity, we look at a challenge ahead of us and determine it to be much larger than it actually is. We see the climb ahead and it seems far too steep to even attempt, yet as we put one foot in front of the other, before we know it, we are half way through the solution to the problem and begin to realize that we can, indeed, make it to the top.

The Sound of Music advises us to “Climb every mountain, follow every highway, ford every steam….” to find our dream. Sometimes we just want to make it up this anthill in front of us to get through the day.

Matthew 11:28-30 says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Scripture reminds us that we do find rest and renewal in God and while it may seem like a sharp incline, the yoke Christ invites us to take upon us is easy and light because we do not walk the steep roads, or the levels ones, or the straight or crooked ones alone. As followers of Christ may we find it in us to assist others with their burdens because they become even lighter when they are shared and perhaps when the hill ahead of them seems too steep to attempt, a little support from a brother or sister may be exactly what is needed to take the next step.

But what about when even helping those we care for wears us down? Compassion fatigue occurs when people struggle to function in care giving environments that constantly present heart-wrenching and emotional challenges. Even when people are certain that they have been called to these ministries, vocations, or situations, compassionate care wears us out. It is difficult when a person is doing all she can do to be helpful but sees a society or community that seems to disregard the needs of those being cared for. Often people who feel called to compassionate care identify closely with those who are suffering or traumatized and put their care before their own…or, sadly, instead of their own.

Self-care, especially for women, has a long history of being seen as a negative activity. We are taught, socialized, influenced to care for one another without much thought for our own well-being. The truth is if we feel truly called to compassion ministries/activities we will do a better job of it and for a longer time if we are attentive to our own needs like exercise, healthy eating, social activities, and sleep. Caring for others and caring for yourself is not a choice between two good things but a balance where providing care for others must be balanced out by care for ourselves. As people of faith, we carry on caring for others but if we do not want to become weary, there is a balance.

As we share the burdens of others, provide care for others, and care for ourselves, we know that we are never alone because Christ walks with us; in this knowledge may we not become weary.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)

Employee or Slave?

Acts 16:16-19

 One day, on our way to the place of prayer, a slave girl ran into us. She was a psychic and, with her fortunetelling, made a lot of money for the people who owned her. She started following Paul around, calling everyone’s attention to us by yelling out, “These men are working for the Most High God. They’re laying out the road of salvation for you!” She did this for a number of days until Paul, finally fed up with her, turned and commanded the spirit that possessed her, “Out! In the name of Jesus Christ, get out of her!” And it was gone, just like that.  When her owners saw that their lucrative little business was suddenly bankrupt, they went after Paul and Silas, roughed them up and dragged them into the market square.   (The Message)

 

Manipulator or Slave? Evil or misguided?

 

Scholars tell us that the fortunetelling done by this girl was done involuntarily, that it was a demonic spirit that spoke through her. She did not choose to tell fortunes, was not interested in misleading anyone or even attempting to make a living. The spirit spoke without her intent or intervention. This spirit uses the term “Most High God” to talk about who it is these men are preaching about…this is not the only time we have seen a demonic spirit recognize the presence of God even when others did not. Demons seem to recognize that there is one, all powerful God even while believers debate.Image

 

When we read what she says it is sometimes difficult to understand why Paul would be upset about it. But, it is believed that she is being disrespectful or saying it in a mocking fashion because it is not she who is speaking but a spirit speaking through her. Paul has had enough and he casts out the demon by calling on Jesus’ name.

 

Her owners are furious because they have been making quite a bit of money from her fortunetelling. They did not give her the information, they did not invite her participation, and they give her none of the profits. She is a slave and is only a possession to them, although a valuable possession because of the income they get from her activities. Once Paul has cast out the demon she is worthless to them and they have lost their comfortable way of making a great deal of wealth with no real effort from themselves. They don’t see what Paul has done as rescuing this girl from a demon but rather he has destroyed their business.

 

As Disciples Women working to combat Human Trafficking and other forms of Modern Day Slavery there is a natural connection to this story of Acts 16. This woman is indeed a slave, a human, trafficked by owners who insist that she perform for their profit, against her will or ability to choose, with none of the profits going into her pocket. When she is unable to earn money for them she loses any value to them even though, as a person, nothing has changed.Image

 

Slavery and trafficking of humans, sadly, is not a new phenomenon. Unfortunately, there are some mistakes we seem to repeat over and over and are often completely unaware of participating in them. Any time a human is forced or coerced to engage in activities against their will we should be ready to recognize it as slavery. When humans are bought and sold for profit we should be ready to recognize it as human trafficking.

There is no debate that human trafficking or any kind of modern day slavery is morally wrong, yet often it can be right in front of us and we do not recognize it or name it for what it is.

 Image

My hope is that as we become more aware we will also become more courageous in speaking up to name it where it is found and to continue to trust that the truth of God’s power is greater than even this devastating act of sin.

 

When we feel like looking the other way, or thinking we don’t have enough information, remember the hotline number 888-3737-888. You can call any time night or day and well-trained workers will follow up and make sure that each report is investigated. Like the young girl of Acts 16, there are many young girls who are waiting for the servants of God to get them released from evil forces.

 

 

Peace, Pat

Now What?

This time of year we look for what is coming. We look for the Christ Child in this season of Advent.

Some are looking for what December 22 will hold since we have been told the Mayan calendar holds some special significance in December 21, 2012, being the last day on the calendar.

 

 

 

 

Perhaps we are looking for 2013 in hopes that it will be a year with a better economic outlook or a year with less stress or better health.

We look forward. It is wise to keep our eyes on what is ahead of us so that we can be prepared for changing times.

However, it is also important to experience ‘now’. In this time of baking, shopping, wrapping, attending parties and multiple church and work activities, it is worth taking the time to be in the ‘now’…the moment.

The mystery of our faith is that Christ is present and is yet to come. While we look forward to the journey of Advent and the coming of the Christ, we also in this mystery have the opportunity to celebrate the Christ who is already present. Our hope and wish for you is that you will take time to be present to your family and friends… take time to thank God for these blessings… take time to experience with all your senses the sounds, smells, tastes, sights and feel of all that makes this season a celebration of the coming of the Messiah.

In this present time, we are so thankful for this ministry that God has called us to working with the women of the church and building relationships around the world. We are thankful for all those we serve as well as all those who are partners in ministry. In this moment we celebrate this ministry of presence and preparation. In this moment we pray that each of you will have the opportunity to remember the joy that is Christmas and all it means in the coming of our Savior and our connection through Christ.

 

Merry Christmas from all of the Disciples Women staff!

Pat, Sheila, Arlene, Beverly, Regenia, Patty, Donna

 

Do you hear?

At this time of Advent and preparation for the coming of the Christ Child it is quite disconcerting to have Pentecost on my brain.  The bright red everywhere helps to reinforce the thoughts of the tongues of fire that spoke the Good News to all gathered on Pentecost. The celebratory nature of worship emphasizes that something big is going on here…whether it be the birth of the Messiah or the coming of the Holy Spirit. The blowing of the winter winds might just as well be the rushing wind of the Spirit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m so confused.

Having returned from China only a few weeks ago my mind is constantly pulled back to the faces and voices of the people we met:

  • The joy of seminarians who have received a call to ministry and are excited to talk   about the times ahead as well as how the church in China compares to the church              in America.Image
  • The excitement of hundreds of lay leaders who were being trained to serve a church that is growing so quickly that pastors, while many hear a call, cannot be trained quickly enough to meet the needs.Image
  • The challenges of people of faith sharing the Good News in a world where there are so many conflicting voices about what ‘truth’ is.Image
  • The struggle of government leaders working to protect believers of five recognized faiths.Image

Pentecost is happening in China.

The church in China is growing in numbers and in strength. The government provides land for church buildings to be built on and upholds the rights of the church to be the church. The people of China speak different languages and have very different experiences but the Holy Spirit is breathing tongues of fire on them and the Church is growing rapidly. There are many groups working hard to share the prosperity of some who have much with others who are most in need, especially those marginalized groups that are often ignored or unseen.Image

The Holy Spirit is speaking to the people of China. As we prepare for the coming of the Child of Bethlehem, I know the Spirit is still speaking to us as well.

Are we listening?

Do you hear what I hear?

Do you hear what the people of China hear?

Do you see what they see?

A child will bring us goodness and light…a child will save us. This, after all, is the Good News of our faith. This Christmas as you celebrate the birth of the babe of Bethlehem, may you celebrate and pray for the Pentecost in China as well.

May there be peace on earth, Pat

 

The Voice of God

While I was at the Obra Hispana Assemblea in July I heard the voice of God. Audible, clear, gentle…yet firm, definite, challenging. The voice said, “You have been healed to lead.” The voice right in my ear said, “Don’t be hesitant; don’t be timid. You have been gifted and called.” Ketty Francis-Santos was preaching powerfully in Spanish to the women gathered but God was speaking the words audibly in English in my right ear. The message of boldness, of remembering that I was meant to be in this time at this place was clear.

I had been hearing the same reminder for a  couple of weeks from other sources…be bold…be who God created you to be…it is no accident that God has prepared you and put you right here, right now.

Have you had that experience? It’s amazing; it’s powerful.

In my ministry I have heard many stories of how God speaks or communicates in other ways to God’s people. Often it is through another person who says something to you that clearly is not a word from them. Sometimes it is through events that cause you to become aware of God’s communication. Preachers like to think that these usually come through sermons, and they sometimes do, but that is certainly not the only way God communicates with us.

During Bible study in a previous church one of the women was disappointed and let down that she had not had an experience where she had heard God speak to her. She had certainly known that God had communicated with her and that God was often clearly present but she longed for the voice of God speaking to her. The group asked her if she took time to listen, to be in silence and listen, she said she had and still no voice. They asked if she had considered that perhaps she didn’t recognize God when God spoke. In spite of their good intentions, she was not comforted and still longed to hear the voice of God.

I have heard God speaking to me before but primarily inside my head which always makes me look for affirmation that it is God and not my own thoughts. I often rely on multiple attestations…that is, hearing the same message in different ways and from different sources.

But on this day, at the women’s gathering I heard God’s voice, audibly, gently and specifically in my right ear. As it turns out God’s voice sounds amazingly like Tanya Lopez’s voice. Tanya who was also attending the event came and sat next to me and was translating Ketty’s Spanish words into English and speaking them into my right ear…calm, measured, yet with the enthusiasm and spirit that Ketty was preaching.

Something amazing happened, something I hope everyone has an opportunity to experience. As Tanya translated Ketty’s words and spoke those words of affirmation and encouragement it seemed clear to me that the words were spoken directly to me….the voice of God speaking to me. It was amazing! It was a blessing! While others in the room heard the message as a group, I was hearing them spoken directly to me.

What an amazing act of hospitality. I had assumed I would struggle through picking up the few Spanish words I could and being blessed by the very presence of the women gathered. But without request or expectation Tanya’s generous act of hospitality became a greater blessing than I could possibly have imagined. The voice of God…Hallelujah!

Following the message we were invited to come forward and to be prayed for and these prayers were precisely the prayers I was in need of…the requests made and the blessings offered fed me and blessed me and there was comfort in recognizing that others were speaking aloud my very own concerns…God was speaking through my Hispanic sisters.

How often does God speak but no one is listening? I am reminded that often in my communications with God I am the one doing all the talking. One writer says that many people want to serve God but only in an advisory capacity. Perhaps our conversations are more about telling God how it ought to be without listening for God to tell us what our part is in making those things happen.

 

The Voice of God….are you listening? Can you hear God now? Is God asking you to speak words to someone else?

May everyone be blessed by the voice of God.