February 28: Listening and Doing

 

Lenten Devotion: Listening and Doing


Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Listening and Doing
James 1:19-27

When I listen to the epistle of James, often identified as Jesus’ brother and important religious leader of his day, I hear the words as coming from a person who knows a transition of some kind is coming. James’ words sound like words of wisdom, intention, and importance that people have spoken when they mysteriously sense they are coming near the end of their lives. He tells us to listen, and then do.

James says, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen… My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says… My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: look after orphans and widows in their distress.”

I am reminded of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, someone I identify as a brother to Jesus and important religious leader of his day. I hear his words as coming from a person who knows a transition of some kind is coming. Martin’s words sound like words of wisdom, intention, and importance that people have spoken when they mysteriously sense they are coming near the end of their lives. He tells us to listen, and then do.

Martin says, “My dear brothers and sisters, we've got to stay together and maintain unity… My dear brothers and sisters, we've got to keep attention on the issue of injustice… My dear brothers and sisters, we've got to march again and force everybody to see that God's children here are suffering… My dear brothers and sisters, anchor your external direct action with the power of your economic withdrawal… These are some practical things that we can do. I ask you to follow through.”

For me, both James and Martin are telling us that to listen without doing is to deceive ourselves. Listening without doing will cause us to forget not only what we have heard, but also who we are.

Rev. Dr. King, Jr. ends his April 3, 1968, I've Been to the Mountaintop sermon, delivered in Memphis, Tennessee with these words: “I just want to do God's will.”

I challenge you during this Lenten season to listen, and then do.

Do justice; do care for those who are suffering; do anchor your external direct action to justice-seeking political action.

Listening to James and Martin makes me see the promised land. Yes, I see it! And I believe that we, as a people, will get to the promised land by listening, and then, by doing!

Rev. Dr. Laurie Garrett-Cobbina
Shaw Family Chair for Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE)

and SFTS Assistant Professor for Pastoral Care and Education
SFTS Chief Diversity Officer