“It is because one antelope will blow the dust from the other’s eye that the two antelopes walk together”- African Proverb
This is one of my favorite African proverbs. It is describing the role of community in the life of believers. When we come together as a church community we in essence blow the dust from each other’s eyes by learning to live and love together. We are in this process of becoming the beloved community together. It is in our questioning, listening and loving that we are challenged and we are ultimately transformed.
I am literally writing this letter with tears in my eyes 1) because I am preparing myself to leave a place that I have called home for over two years 2) because I suffered a corneal abrasion that resulted from the side effects of my recent surgery. It feels like I have dust is in my eyes. The preacher in me is always listening for sermons so when I thought about my eye situation the African proverb quoted above came to mind. If you listen closely you can hear God speaking in even the mundane things of life As Mother’s Day approaches I also give thanks for the gift of my mother. I can remember as a child having my mother blow something from my eyes. I am sure many of you can relate to the relief you felt when your mother did that same thing for you. A mother’s love blows dust from our eyes and refreshes our hearts. So how do adults blow dust from each other’s eyes? Surprisingly it comes from using our ears and not our eyes.
We can hear most clearly when we pray. Prayer is vital to listening to God and each other. This posture of “prayerful listening” is vital to a healthy community where God’s beloved children dwell. When we listen we can see things better. The spiritual dust is removed from our eyes or as Oprah likes to call it , you have an “aha” moment, Members of the beloved community engage in spiritual listening when we pray together and commune with God and each other. Communion is not just about sharing in the sacrament of communion but about breaking bread with one another in sacred fellowship. We practice “prayerful listening “ and commune with each other when we allow our differing opinions to be heard and respected and allow for the space and time to process what was heard in worship and live it out during the week. When this happens we learn to love and respect each other and learn from the things we understand and to accept the things that we don’t.
We can choose to listen and be propelled forward by the positive voices or succumb to the negative voices of failure. The scriptures admonish us to encourage each other to good works and to continue in fellowship with one another. It is important that we keep listening to the good voices or as I like to say the “God voice” inside of us that affirms and confirms God’s good plans for us. Scripture informs us that God’s plans for us are good and not evil. I love the way the Message Bible says it “I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen.” Jeremiah 29:11-12
In my years of ministry I have learned that the same God that calls you to a people and a place is the same God who walks with you through the good times and the bad with those same people. The key is to learn the lessons and to try your best to listen to what God is saying in the midst of it all and to remember that God’s plans for us are good and not evil. When we keep this in mind we can be thankful and grateful for the grace of God at work in our lives and trust that God is guiding us.
One thing I know for sure, God has guided me to this special church and this special people, for such as time as this. I want to fulfill my calling and to help you become the church you were destined to be. I am looking forward to walking with you in the coming months as we walk out the Interim process and being to try new ways of worship and outreach in our community. Spring is here and it’s a time for new beginnings. I feel like I have been saying that almost every month now since I have been here. If we allow the dust to be blown from our eyes we will begin to see more clearly the good work that God has already begin in us.
I hope that with God’s help, I was able to blow the dust from your eyes and help you to see yourselves as the strong congregation that you really are. I will miss all of you dearly. I am very thankful to God for the opportunity to serve here at the First Presbyterian Church of Levittown. You have helped me to grow and to blow dust from my eyes. My prayer is that the Lord will help us to continue to be faithful servants in the work of building up Christ’s church.
In Christ’s Service,