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Listening to God

By: Pastor Karen Brau

Listening to God is difficult. Among other things, it takes time, patience and an openness to hearing what may seem ordinary or surprising.

We have been listening to God at Luther Place for a long time.

In my time serving with you, we have taken time to listen to God as we engaged in our vision process beginning in 2009. I remember that at first there was one person in our small group of the Vision Coalition who was sure that “listening,” to God was too slow for their liking. And I recall as our meetings unfolded and we spent time in prayer, Bible study and faithful conversation, that this same person commented, “There is nothing in my life that is slow, so maybe it’s good to take our time listening to God.”

I have heard from spiritual guides that Soul work is slow work. That means that God’s work with us as individuals and as community takes time.

One of the first pieces we generated as a congregation was the purpose statement. God has a mission for the whole world and as a congregation, we have a particular call at a particular place with a particular people. The last three words of our purpose statement resonate loudly: “and challenges injustice.”

Over time, this congregation has “challenged injustice,” in different ways.

In the 1970’s, when there were no shelters for women, the challenge to injustice was to shelter women.

As a result of this faithful action, our small congregation, along with interfaith partners, created an institution called N Street Village that has evolved to become a non-profit on a scale that is stunningly expansive. The ministry that began in the pews and basement of Luther Place now entertains guests like Oprah Winfrey and and Richard Gere, and Grammy artists Jennifer Holliday and Andra Day.

What gifts of healing and hope N Street Village brings forth in the world!

And, Luther Place continues to have the call to listen to God’s call in challenging injustice.

The work of justice housed in the Steinbruck Center has grown over the last few years. From serving several hundred persons in our hostel ministry, we now serve over 1000 persons per year. Many of our guests are college students from across the geography of our nation. These students come to learn about a vision of justice and healing through paying attention to the lives and stories of persons experiencing poverty, racial inequity and immigration status challenges. The experiential learning happens through our place-based ministries with special emphasis on N Street Village.

In our day when injustice across the globe is legion, we are hearing God call us to teach more, to train more and to be part of transforming the lives of guests in the hostel to become justice and healing leaders in their home communities.

In order to respond to this new call, we are considering a shift in the use of our space on the 4th floor–shifting the Steinbruck Center Hostel to the 4th floor.

This may be experienced as a loss.

The Luther Place Night Shelter, presently on the 4th floor, was created out of love and it has been our decades-long witness in this place.

So we humbly ask God to lead and guide us into new territory. We rely on the deep roots of this faithful congregation and ask that God continue to transform the Steinbruck Center into a ministry that makes new connections. We ask that we are a place creating ministry that challenges injustice and generates healing in these uncertain days. And we hope that we can boldly continue on this way, together.

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