Are you listening?
6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. Isaiah 9:6-7 (ESV)
I read Isaiah 9 this morning. Then I read v6-7 again. And again. There are days when the prospect of a kingdom of peace (shalom) and righteousness seem completely unattainable. It is so far from what I see around me that I wonder. Sit for a moment with that image of Jesus carrying the government on his shoulders … and seeing it extend not to a limit but endlessly. A Kingdom of justice. For all. Justice that extends to the abused and neglected.
Hold that thought. Stop reading. Breathe it in.
I am currently (slowly) writing a thesis on ‘healthy touch for clergy’. On Fridays I try to take time to read. Last Friday I read a number of papers on why abusers abuse; looking at the common profiles of abusers .(1) And I thought about my story. The man who abused me was charismatic, well-loved and powerful. I didn’t think anyone would listen to my story. So I didn’t share it. Not for decades. Nobody listened. We each have our stories. Take time this week to listen to someone else’s story. Sit with them. Really listen. Don’t fix. Don’t solve. Just listen.
There is hope. And truth. And our opportunity today is to counter every injustice we hear or see with a word of truth. A calling to kindness. Taking a moment to turn from words of self-glorification, self-defence, self-gratification to listen to the stories of others. We can make a difference. In small ways. In our communities: whether at work or at home, in the dog-park, at Home Depot and Target. By listening.
Jesus will return. The Kingdom of God will come into it’s fullness. Meanwhile, we must watch. And pray. And listen. And seek goodness. Every single day.
If you have a story you would like to tell someone - please let me know. I'd love to take time. And listen.
~Rev Liz Gray
(1) Charol Shakeshaft, Educator Sexual Misconduct: A Synthesis of Existing Literature. 2004. , 31