The God Who Speaks

By Sherry Black

A Reading from Joel 2:12-19

12 Yet even now, says the Lord,
return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
13     rend your hearts and not your clothing.
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love,
and relenting from punishment.
14 Who knows whether he will not turn and relent
and leave a blessing behind him,
a grain offering and a drink offering
for the Lord your God?

15 Blow the trumpet in Zion;
consecrate a fast;
call a solemn assembly;
16     gather the people.
Consecrate the congregation;
assemble the aged;
gather the children,
even infants at the breast.
Let the bridegroom leave his room
and the bride her canopy.

17 Between the vestibule and the altar,
let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep.
Let them say, “Spare your people, O Lord,
and do not make your heritage a mockery,
a byword among the nations.
Why should it be said among the peoples,
‘Where is their God?’ ”

18 Then the Lord became jealous for his land
and had pity on his people.
19 In response to his people the Lord said:
“I am sending you
grain, wine, and oil,
and you will be satisfied;
and I will no more make you
a mockery among the nations.”


In a relationship, there is speaking and there is listening. Conversation doesn’t go in just one direction. Yawheh speaks. Are we listening?

Compared with just 100 years ago, we have so many distractions! Then, the days and nights were governed by the rising of the sun and its setting. There were few electric lights expanding the length of days into the darkness of night. The radio had just been invented. It would be decades before most homes had even one television, not to mention these new hand-held electronic devices that dominate our lives, our minds. There is so much noise and distraction all around us, all the time.

When do we listen for God? How can we make space for listening? How to we attend to God’s voice?

“Listening prayer” is its own genre of prayer, suggesting that it’s not our usual means of prayer. Prayer too often is about words — talking to God. Of course, that’s important. But when do we listen? God is speaking in a still, small voice, speaking into our hearts, speaking in our lives, speaking to us through those around us. God speaks to us through the quiet glory of nature, the sparkle of the sun on water, through the splendor of the cosmos. God speaks to our hearts if we will just take time, make time to listen.

What do we hear God saying?

Return to me with your heart.

Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing.

I am sending you grain, wine, and oil, and you will be satisfied.

It is Yahweh who speaks; it is we who are called to listen.

The Very Rev. Sherry Black is a second-career Episcopal priest, and has been a full-time hospital chaplain for ten years. She also serves a small mission church as priest-in-charge, and is dean of her deanery.

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The Diocese of Central Newfoundland – The Anglican Church of Canada
All Souls’ Church, Oklahoma City


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