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Words from the Heart

August 27, 2018

Dear Luther Place Congregation,

I have a small blue square ceramic plaque that usually hangs on the wall of our bedroom in the parsonage.  The blue square has one word stamped into it — Listen.

I received this blue square as a gift from a Benedictine Nun who is my long time prayer partner — we met over 10 years ago at Our Lady of Grace Monastery in Beech Grove, Indiana as part of a Continuing Education program called: Women Touched by Grace. Sister Maureen made the ceramic plaque with her own hands, and she gave it to me to remember St. Benedict’s first teaching in the Rule of St Benedict.  This small book begins with the word “listen.”

“Listen carefully, and incline the ear of your heart.”

It may seem strange for a Lutheran to be drawn to a Benedictine way of engaging faith, yet it seems as if we all are in a time when the practice of listening is in short supply.  The various noises of our lives take up so much space that listening to God, to each other and to ourselves may be at the bottom of the list of our daily priorities.

A reminder to “listen,”  is a good grace.

I take the theme of “listen,” for my sabbatical and from September through the end of November,  I will “listen,” in contemplative prayer and meditation, in conversation with my spiritual directors, in reading and writing, in nature and travel.

As I listen for God’s presence and activity in the world, I carry all of you with me — as individuals and as the congregation of Luther Place.  As Sr. Maureen still prays daily for me, I pray daily for Luther Place.

“Listen, carefully…and incline the ear of your heart.”

While I am away, I pray that you make opportunities to listen to God as well.  You are in community with a wonderful Sabbatical Pastor, Rev. Tony Carpenter, who shares the good news of Christ with power and grace.  The staff and leadership of Luther Place offer old and new ways for listening to God living and moving in our midst.  There is a 20s-30s Fall Retreat at Rolling Ridge in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia in October and a congregational retreat scheduled for Saturday, Nov 3.  Please consider these options as structured ways to listen in community.

Is there a daily practice you can try out for September to November?  I commend to you the app, Pray as you Go, because it offers a simple and directed way to engage scripture, music, and God in a small chunk of time.

Ed and I packed up our things over the last weeks and have left the parsonage relocating to Baltimore for the sabbatical time.  As I look at the pile of things to unpack, I know in one of the boxes is the small blue ceramic tile.  I have my eye on the wall where I will put  it up for this sabbatical season so I am reminded over and over to,”listen.”

“Listen, carefully…and incline the ear of your heart.”

In gratitude,

Pastor Karen Brau


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