Amy Jones,
Agape Coordinator
Dear God, we come to worship you today. 
We come to pray, and listen.
You always hear us. 
Help us to hear you. Amen
Deuteronomy 6:4-12

4Hear, O Israel: The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. 5You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. 6Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. 7Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. 8Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, 9and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

10When the LORD your God has brought you into the land that he swore to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you — a land with fine, large cities that you did not build, 11houses filled with all sorts of goods that you did not fill, hewn cisterns that you did not hew, vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant — and when you have eaten your fill, 12take care that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 
IDeuteronomy 6:4-6 is often recognized as The Shema, an important prayer in the Jewish tradition. It functions as a declaration of faith, recited twice daily by some (morning and evening). The word “shema” means “hear.” Shema is the first word of the prayer, which is how it gets its name.

“To hear” is a verb that we take for granted. I have loud, incurable tinnitus, and hearing for me usually means a high pitched ring in my right ear and a low pitched hum in my left ear. My friend complains that her father doesn’t hear too well, even with his hearing aids. She probably means he doesn’t listen. “To hear” is usually just one sense among others for our English-speaking culture. It is a thing that happens without us giving it much attention, like the trash truck or the snowplow that disrupts my sleep when I hear it rumbling down my quiet street.

The type of “hearing” that typifies The Shema is different. This type of hearing requires that we hear with our heart, with our memory, with our voices, with our repose, and with our bodies and homes. This goes beyond simple “listening” or even the “active listening” we are all urged to practice. This is the type of hearing that permeates all of our senses and actions, from daily living to child-rearing, and unconscious thought.

We’re invited to a kind of “hearing” that reverberates with our souls. When we take the time to really hear that God is God of all things, we come to recognize that even the things we think we own and care for as our own do not belong to us. We live in cities we did not build, often eat food we did not grow, drink water from wells we did not drill. Deep, soul-reverberating listening goes beyond what little our ears can detect and allows us to hear and feel the great cloud of witnesses that have bolstered us to be who and what we are today. This kind of hearing produces another kind of action: love.

There is one other type of “hearing” that has consumed our lives for the last several weeks: the kind of “hearing” the Senate had this week. When we “hear” things in a judicial or political sense we’re often looking for evidence of moral or ethical character. This kind of “hearing” relies on what our senses can perceive and doesn’t often recognize the importance of the type of “hearing” Deuteronomy asks of us - hearing that propels us to love and urges us to recognize that our lives are built on much that we, as individuals, did not build or make but have a duty to care for with the same care we give God and wish for ourselves.

We cannot truly hear without also taking other actions. Let your hearing manifest in your memories, voice, action, and body. Let your hearing manifest in love.
God who hears, hear our prayer that we will become a people who hear not only with our ears but also with our hearts and souls. Let love and gratitude reverberate through our lives. Amen.
Amy Jones
Amy Jones, Agape Coordinator
Amy Jones our Agape Coordinator is an ordained deacon in the United Methodist Church. In this tradition, deacons are ordained clergy who bridge the ministry of the church with the needs of the world, and vice versa. In more than 15 years of ministry, she has worked in churches, in children and family ministry, higher education, and nonprofits. In each setting, her focus has been on matching the resources of the church with the needs of the world. Agape Community Kitchen is exactly the type of work she was called to do. 

Amy can be reached by email at:
The Presbyterian Church in Westfield continues to burn as a light in the darkness as our community weathers this fearsome storm of illness. Our reach of care continues to extend far beyond our immediate borders. You can help us make a real impact in the lives of others by joining in our work through your time, your talents, and also in the fruits of your labors.
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