I told Sylvia I would have this newsletter column done by tomorrow. It has to get done. It’s newsletter week, and this is just how it goes. I’ve already missed the official deadline, but I know that my spot is reserved and that Sylvia is exceedingly kind. Still, I know I’m bumping up against this month’s real deadline, the time when my writer’s block starts to cause problems for her work flow, and I don’t want that. Still, I’ve started this column three or four different times, with no success. It’s getting pretty old.

I’m not just procrastinating, although I can do that with the best of them. I’ve started three or four different columns, each on a completely different topic. It’s like my muse is playing pin the tail on the donkey, and it’s spun around one time too many. There’s good stuff in there, but none of it is coming out. I could write a whole series of columns – I’ve got topics from here to July – but nothing to say in complete sentences for the beginning of February. It’s infuriating.

Oh, and they’re important, these ideas. Big thoughts about who we are as the church, how God acts in the world, how to live and love as Christ’s people. You don’t get more important than the stuff I have running around in my mind. If only it would stop running. Just tell it to stop, stand in one place, let me have a look. I need to see it, to measure it up, to understand what needs to be said and say it, because how else will you all know what must be done and how we ought to do it? Oh, how am I supposed to enlighten the world when I can’t seem to shine a steady light on my own brain? Profound topics everywhere, and not a one of them is ready to be written.

Not a one of them is ready to be written. The ideas are there, the thoughts are developing, the discernment is progressing, but the words aren’t ready to come out. They need time. They need space. Pay attention to the empty moments, the open spaces, the quiet spots in the midst of the noise, and wait for the next word.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next word isn’t mine. It’s not really any of ours, because the next word – like the first Word – is God’s. But I don’t think the next word will come from my mouth, or my pen, or my keyboard. I suspect that the next clearest thing we hear will be from someone else. It will be one of you reading this, or perhaps someone who has never been connected with this church. Someone will be ready with the next word. All we have to do is listen.

We can listen in the quiet moments, the open spaces. We can listen in the busy commotion of life. We can listen to ancient words and well-known music that pray for us by the mysterious gift of the Spirit. Sometimes we can listen without even listening, and we hear in a way we never expected to. It’s not the quality of our listening that ultimately does the job, it’s the purity of the Voice that calls our name and invites us into deeper and richer faith. May we hear the One who calls to us, individually and as the church.

In Christ’s peace,

Nathan

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