Published by Heather Guppy on Sat, 1 May 2021 00:15

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. Romans 10.17

Looking back over the past year, the pandemic has highlighted some of the best of human nature against the backdrop of the saddest times.

As we turn a brave corner into post lockdown era (or maybe a period before further lockdowns) each week brings new and critical moments. Amidst it all, we are patiently getting used to the changes we are living in moment by moment. The advantage of now from a year on is the benefit of looking back over people’s experiences and the chance to reflect on both the positive and negative.

I have just finished a short placement at the University Hospital Coventry Chaplaincy where I have been hosted by the fantastic team there in the Faith Centre. The placement away from Parish life had given me time to process much of the last year and no better a place to witness afresh the meaning of human love and support in this global pandemic. Experiences I’ve had with the chaplains on the front line has been an immense gift.

But what is the greatest lesson to bring back to parish ministry? Time and again the chaplains reminded me of the pastoral primacy of an ability to listen. Chaplains are exemplars of and ministerial spiritual experts in active listening. This is crucial because being able to be present and listen, is ultimately the last and greatest thing that offers hope and healing. Hope giving a final sense of liberation to situations that seem only to be heading one way medically.

Listening I was told, has many levels like a ladder. At the bottom step you have listening to argue, which is true many of us can’t wait to do most of the time! A rung up, listening to respond is just waiting for a gap in the conversation. Further up the ladder is the type of listening which is to increase understanding. But there is another type of listening at the very top of the ladder that turns things completely on its head - Listening to help the speaker understand more deeply and profoundly is life-changing. Helping them to understand by wise, intentional yet often done with quiet acknowledgement.

Of this type of listening Jesus was the master. When people met Jesus, it’s true they were healed from their physical illnesses but they were also fortunate recipients of His divine ear as well. His ability to reach deep into hearts not by words but by a deliberately silent understanding.

As scripture reminds us- if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. 1 John 5.15

We are not divine like Jesus, but we possess the same divine gift for listening. When we take time to listen without judgement, we truly become Christs hands, hearts and ears on this earth. In this method care for others the heart of the Christian faith is spoken. It is the foundation for all that hospitals like UCHW exists for, and it’s no coincidence that the prayerful Faith Centre is at the heart of this and many hospital institutions.

Enjoy the Spring and keep each other safe. 

Jonathan (Curate)

Categories Word from the Clergy