Listen is the first word in the Rule that Benedict wrote for his monasteries.  He was encouraging his monks to spend time each and every day in active listening with God.  In the United Church of Christ, we proclaim with a loud voice that “God is still speaking,” and I believe this, but the question we have to ask is, are God’s people still listening?

Benedict’s rule was filled with practical advice on how to live life as a monastic and live in a community.  Part of the practical advice, or wisdom, is that listening is a full action of the entire body.  Benedict instructed his monks in the art of Lectio Devina, and yes it is an art.  This is the practice of praying with the Scriptures or letting the Scriptures speak to you.  But it takes time and concentration to learn.  But it is not a passive form of listening as it involves the entire body.

Hearing, or listening to God’s voice, takes priority over seeing.  I am a firm believer that Scripture should be heard and not just read.  In most of our churches, we have Bibles in the pews for the faithful to use.  We instruct them on the page they should turn to for the readings that they will hear read.  The faithful follow along, reading, and not listening.  Sure you hear the words being read, but you are not listening.  Scripture was meant to be heard not just read.  The art of Lectio Devina requires us to slow down and read, and reread Scripture, in fact, Benedict would suggest reading it out loud to ourselves.

If you believe that God is still speaking, then we have to keep listening and put ourselves in a position to hear that voice.  Spend some time this Advent season listening for God’s voice in your life.

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