Stories can help us to understand and to develop an appreciation for people—even for people who hold beliefs that oppose our own. A few examples: You might believe that terminating a pregnancy is immoral; yet, when you hear a woman talking about the circumstances that led her to such a momentous decision, you convey respect by listening. You may believe that America needs tougher gun control laws; yet, when you listen to the reasons your neighbor is a proud gun owner, you open your mind to validity of another point of view. Or, more practically, you might not think that your church needs to replace the carpet in the sanctuary this year; yet, when you take into consideration the wishes of the people who do, you create space for living together with difference.
—Elizabeth Hagan, Brave Church: Tackling Tough Topics Together (Upper Room Books, 2021)
How has listening to someone’s story helped you stay in relationship even amid differences? Join the conversation.
You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness.
—James 1:19-20 (NRSV)
Prayer for the Week
Lord, grant me the patience and grace to listen, the courage and wisdom to question and speak; and the bravery to create safe space for tough topics.
Submit your prayer to The Upper Room.
Churches are not immune to violence, as we have seen from shootings at houses of worship across the nation. The challenge for faith communities is how to prepare for and respond to potential violence. In Whom Shall I Fear? Urgent Questions for Christians in an Age of Violence, author Rosalind Hughes asks congregational leaders to examine whether their operational and security policies are consistent with gospel values. Learn more here.
(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)
Looking for lectionary-based resources? Learn more about The Upper Room Disciplines.