The 24th Sunday after Pentecost

I have been listening to a devotional podcast since the ecumenical trip I went on to Israel in 2015. One of the Roman Catholic leaders shared it and I have remained a listener. I don’t mind hearing different perspectives on topics (the podcast is produced by the Jesuits) and there are times when I remember why there was a Reformation (!) but their goal is the same as mine – making connections between Scripture (and yes, they have extra books) and people today.

I know I listen with two ears, so to speak, my personal and my professional ears. There is the me that is listening to the verses and reflecting as asked on the spiritual exercise and then there’s the me watching the process so to speak – analysing the question, the message of the text, the task – with a professional curiosity that I might learn something. (I would hope I’m not being critical – it’s a podcast after all – and the Jesuits I know do not agree with me about everything just as I don’t agree with them but that doesn’t mean we can’t be respectful and learn from each other.)

So it was quite a surprise for me when I recently heard a podcast and, at the Bible Reading, the personal / professional ears ‘merged’ so to speak, and I heard the text as husband, father, brother, pastor, teacher, Chairman, chaplain, padre – remember that our Lutheran understanding of vocation – where God has called and placed us – determines our behaviour because of these relationships. In fact I thought at that moment, I wasn’t holding the verses but the verses were holding me – all of me in my sinful totality (while even thinking about all this!) and that in this moment, God was telling me – all of me – of his grace and mercy and that there is a baptism that guarantees that I am his. And that’s good news! For me! For those moments, the jobs – tasks – the lists seem to be getting longer – could wait for a moment – it was as if I needed to hear something else.

I often use the Lutheran jargon about God’s Word – how it is Law and Gospel – which is very much how we hear God’s Word at that moment. It is what the Holy Spirit wants us to hear. This is why people can hear different messages in worship as the Holy Spirit takes God’s Word, however it comes to us, and speaks to us personally. This is a dynamic hearing or reading or meditating because while we might know the words of the Bible eventually, we can keep hearing a message for us here and now. Following Jesus is never dull or routine. GS

PS. Today 18 years ago Charlotte, Katherine, Claire, and I arrived in Heathrow and found our way to Beck Row and that’s another thing that hasn’t been dull or routine!