[#pictureLent] March 21: EARS

By Rev. Shannon LeMaster-Smith
Oak Hill UMC/Director of Children’s and Youth Ministry
Morganton, NC

First, read Psalm 40:5-6 

Yesterday my ears
Adorned with dangly bronze and silver rings
Heard bluegrass music on the way to work, faint in the background
As I talked out loud to myself in the car
My ears processed the copier down the hall
Printing my administrative duties of the day
And then a gift, my ears listened
As a father shared deep sadness over a son’s depression
There needn’t be words when ears are open, active, alert
That afternoon children’s laughter and playfulness delighted my ears
As the afterschool ministry began, singing, dancing, playing
Delight, joy-filled
wonder and awe at the beauty of curiosity and eagerness
To be loved, to belong, to be safe
Disrupted by complaints of messes, violence, and brokenness
Painful for my ears, painful for the Body
Miscommunication and chaotic episodes of whatnots
Accompanied with gossip, frustration in its smallest form but yet
My ears absorb it all, the pain, the anger, the negativity
And the joy, the ability to comfort just by listening
And sharing love with those who need it most

A day in the life of ministry - or really life in general – brings a multitude of noises, voices, things that our ears hear and process along with our other senses. Some of it is pure perfection – unbounded love and joy. Yet some is deep despair and brokenness. Annoying frustrations or worries.   

We make the choice each day what voices we allow our ears to hear. We can surround ourselves with negative voices that affect our mood and stress, and poison our bodies and relationships with others. Or we can choose what this Psalmist does – to focus on God’s glorious works and proclaim the good that is all around.  

Marvelous Creator God, may your voice be the one we hear above all others. May we proclaim your goodness and live in the fullness of gratitude for all that you have done. Amen.

Discussion/Reflection Questions: 

1. Think of your day from the moment you awoke until now – what are the many noises and voices that your ears heard today?  
2. What are you filling your ears with – voices of gratitude or of complaint? 
3. What action steps might you take to fill your ears with more of this Psalmist’s words of gratitude and positive proclamation?