“Holy Listening”

“Holy Listening”

The wind blows wherever it wishes. You hear the sound it makes, but you do not  know where it comes from or where it is going. It is like that with everyone who is born of the Spirit.  -John 3:8 (TEV)

Whenever I get asked to do something that I have never done before, or asked to do something outside my area of expertise, I want to shout to whoever might listen, “that’s not in in job description.” Nonetheless, each and every time I feel so inclined, I am reminded of the fine print found at the tail end of many job descriptions, i.e. “and you may be called upon to take on any other responsibilities as may be deemed necessary by the organization.” Yes, that fine print is a vigilant reminder that much of life doesn’t fall into neat and clearly defined parameters. Thus, although we don’t always know what may be happening for the short term, God does! That is to say, God is always at work through us and for us like the rush of a mighty wind, interrupting our transience, complacency and myopic understanding of the world.

In our walk with Christ Jesus, I, like so many others, spend far too much time telling God “what I want or don’t want” or “what I will do or will not do.” Perhaps that is why God is sometimes referred to as the ultimate listener, listening to the personal needs of countless billions around the world.

In being God’s disciples, perhaps God is wanting us to remember the fine print of what it means to be a Christian.  We need to spend less time being “self-centred” and more time being “God centred.” Yes, we are called to follow Jesus first and foremost. He is our guide, and he is one to whom we follow, or as the scripture reminds us in the Gospel of John, God sends the spirit like just as God sends the wind. It guides and directs us and gives us the power we need to do the job.

Earlier this month, Jayanthi was asked by the local hospital to give a testimony of her experience of having had breast cancer at a celebration for cancer survivors and a remembrance service for who died as a result of cancer. Nothing in this world prepared her for taking on that task. It was far different from her job as the librarian at the Moffat Mission. And yet, that occasion was a moving and spiritual experience of people from all walks of life giving praise to God amidst adversity and uncertainty. Yes, God is like a mighty wind.

At a recent Interns Conference of UCCSA pastors-in-training at the Moffat Mission, I was asked to make a presentation on “Communication and Ministry.” Although that presentation could have gone several different directions, it ultimately centered on the need of pastors to be engaged in “holy listening” in their ministries – critically listening to God through the power of the Holy Spirit, and less time in preaching to their family, friends, neighbours, class and work mates and all others. Yes, “the wind blows where it will.”

Within the Church, that means we must continue to work and to make ourselves a community – a living church, a caring church, a church for all people – the people of Wrenchville as well as Mothistaad in the Northern Cape, as well as for the students at the Kuruman House of Ministerial Formation, and every other place under our influence. It means that we are being called to be an inclusive church, a listening church, a church big enough to allow the power of the Holy Spirit to move in our lives in ways that we least expect.

Jayanthi and I give thanks for the many ways that churches in North America support our ministry through prayers, emails and through sacrificial gifts to the special projects related our ministry at the Kuruman House of Ministerial Formation at the Moffat Mission, Northern Cape, South Africa. God bless you all.

James & Jayanthi Wilson serve with the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa (UCCSA), seconded to the South Africa Synod and assigned to the Kuruman Moffat Mission.  Jim serves as an instructor at the UCCSA House of Formation.  Jayanthi serves as librarian at Kuruman Moffat Mission. Their appointment is made possible by your gifts to Disciples’ Mission Fund, Our Churches Wider Mission, and your special gifts.