I began this Advent season in worship inviting us to wait and watch expectantly for the surprising ways, even amidst growing darkness, that Spirit can move. Knowing our deep stories, personal and collective, and how they shape what we can know or not know as true is key. Using author Charles Eisenstein’s language, we could say that the conventional cultural story, The Story of Separation, keeps us excessively isolated and linear which doesn’t help us sense Spirit’s surprising possibilities. Yet, the ancient and emerging Story of Interbeing (we call it God’s Realm) where we sense our deep interdependence and connection with the earth and others does open us to know Spirit’s movements.

We help ourselves enter The Story of Interbeing by listening compassionately to the earth and to the experiences of other people and cultures. For five years, I sat monthly with a circle of pastors and rabbis concerned about the State of Israel’s actions. This helped me to move past a ‘position’ about it into a compassionate understanding of the concern for Jewish survival and the many complexities and critiques of Israel inside the circle of Jewish identified people. Likewise, watching multi-episode documentaries like the Al-Nakba by Palestinian Rawan Damen (Al Jazeera English) and We Shal Remain from the American Experience series by PBS have helped me to more compassionately understand others who have been occupied and dispossessed of their land. These ‘listenings’ have increased my sense of interbeing and compassion.

Compassionate listening is a light we need amidst the darkness that we need in order to travel in this season of Advent, of church transition, and of cultural and national conflict. The Transition Team continues this month to listen to your sense of our church future with Calling Conversations. The FCC Board is listening to your nominations and for Spirit’s guidance in discerning the roster of the Settled Pastor Search Team. Our Faith Exploration youth have listened to others sharing about different faith traditions. Church members gifted with the skill of compassionate listening are coming together to support other FCC friends and members.

Let us all carry the light of compassionate listening and then be surprised by Spirit’s movement as we wait for the Light to come again.

Pastor JT