This week we finish our summer tour through Genesis. We learn that this is our story and that the larger story and all the smaller ones within it call us to ongoing conversion as we make our way in God's world. Listening to scripture read and proclaimed is, of course, one of the central and most important things we do when we gather. The Eucharist itself, after which the entire service is named is the other, and arguably the "high point," but we'll have plenty to say about that at other times.
When we listen in community, we're not listening to get information, or to criticize, or to get entertainment value, though these movements in our mind might accompany our listening; beyond anything, we listen for the movement of the Spirit in our community and in us. In response to our first reading I've introduced the response "With your help O Lord, we will listen and live." I've used this response to the readings that precede the gospel for 15 years or so and I find it gets to the heart of what listening to scripture is all about. Listening is connected to true Life because every time we gather it is the Living God who speaks.
Believe it or not, I'm doing the same thing as you every Sunday. I've worked at the liturgy and the sermon but when we're together I'm a "parishioner" waiting for God to speak and often I'm surprised at how I'm challenged to keep growing and changing as the scriptures are read and as I preach. I find it helpful to pray "With your help O Lord, I will listen and live," as I sit down, it focuses me on what is required to turn a loving gaze of attention on God; perhaps you will find that it focuses you on the possibility at hand.