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"Theological puzzle: Why don't we call Pentecost season ‘extraordinary time’ - awareness & attention of the spirit inhabiting the world?" Diana Butler Bass

Extraordinary experiences in this ordinary time:

I finally finished reading the Bible. It took me about 18 months to get through the one-year reading program, but I finally did it. I found things that I recognized, and lots that I didn't, and I was amazed how often I ran across a story, or a set of verses that seemed to exactly fit where I was at the time.

And, just when you need it, the right word or theme appears.

The theme that kept cropping up in the last week was "voice."

It started with the recognition that some people in the congregation needed to talk. Whether in individual conversations, or in a more public forum, they needed to be heard and know that someone was listening.

It continued at Synod Assembly.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) has a tag line: "God's Work. Our Hands."

The keynote speaker at the assembly noted that the tag line is incomplete. It should be: "God's Work. Our Hands. God's Words. Our Voices."

"God's Work. Our Hands" indicates that actions are enough. If you act in a Christian manner then everything is OK.

But actions alone are only half the equation. In addition to showing the love of Christ through our actions we also have to speak the stories of God's love and action in our lives.

(Cue the spirit of Pastor Loufman.) Stories matter. We not only have to tell our stories, we have to listen to the stories of others. We have to use our voice, and hear the voices of others. If we can’t speak about God with those in our church, how are we ever going to be able to speak about God with those who don’t know God?

We also need to hear the voice of God speaking to us through the Holy Spirit. We need to speak the word of God in our interactions with others.

Some of the most powerful moments at Synod Assembly were the minutes of silence we observed before elections for bishop. It was an important decision. People had had the chance to talk and listen to others. Now it was time to listen to God.

Our congregation has its own important decision coming up. I hope you have had the opportunity to talk with others. I hope that you have taken the time to listen to others. And most importantly, I hope you are allowing silence into your day to listen to the voice of God in making this decision.

- Ann Warner

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