September 10, 2018
This weeks author, the Rev. Nicolette Siragusa, is the pastor of Bolton Congregational Church, UCC.
I love the LORD because the Lord hears my requests for mercy. I’ll call out to the Lord as long as I live, because the Lord listens closely to me. ?
“Do you want solutions, or do you just want me to listen?”
I consider myself to be a smart and helpful person. Ten years ago, called as a solo pastor at the age of 28, I was eager to show how smart, how wise, how discerning I could be. When people came to me to talk, I was quick to offer advice and try to fix problems, to prove myself helpful, capable, and worthy of being called as their pastor.
This is a pattern I followed not just in my professional life, but in my personal one as well – thinking quickly and offering solutions and advice.
A very dear friend of mine is also quick-witted and a good problem- solver. In the beginning of our friendship, when I told him about a bad day or a difficult issue, he readily told me how I could fix everything. His solutions often sounded perfect for his personality and setting, and not at all workable for mine.
It was really annoying. Not surprisingly, he felt the same way about my ‘helpful’ suggestions.
After years of frustrating conversations along this pattern, we found a friendship (and ministry) saving question: “Do you want solutions, or do you just want me to listen?” Over and over again, I find that I just want someone to listen to me. Often somewhere deep inside we know the solutions to our difficult issues, we’re just not quite ready to use them yet.
I imagine that God, whose wisdom vastly surpasses my own, could give a lot of good advice. Yet, few of us have had angelic visitors or voices from burning bushes telling us what to do. Perhaps it’s because God knows that we may not follow the advice given in even those ways. And perhaps that’s not what we most often need from God.
The psalmist writes about loving God – not for fixing things, not for bailing them out, not for providing all of the answers, but for caring enough to listen when they cry out. It is for this reason that the psalmist pledges to call out to the Lord as long as they live.
The God who made us, loves us, and cares about our joys, our sorrows, or our struggles. So go ahead, tell God what’s on your heart without worrying about being interrupted by unsolicited advice. God knows that sometimes we just need someone to lovingly listen to us.
Loving God, thank you for listening. Help me to lovingly hold what others communicate and slow my urge to offer unwanted help. Amen.
We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Drew Page at email@example.com.
Evangelical & Reformed UCC
First Congregational Church, Wallingford
The First Congregational Church of Washington, UCC
First Congregational Church of Waterbury, UCC
Mill Plain Union Church
This Week in History:
Sept. 10, 1897 (121 years ago): The first drunk driver is arrested in London and fined 25 shillings. The first law against driving while intoxicated in the U.S. was passed in 1910, in New York. Data from 2016 shows more than 1 million arrests in the U.S. for driving under the influence and over 10,000 fatalities related to alcohol-impaired driving.
Starting With Scripture: September 10, 2018 , by Nicolette Siragusa.