Last year I was asked to contribute the lead essay for the book, Developing Ears to Hear. To quote the cover blurb, ‘This is a book about listening. It is about active, engaged listening which discovers,in the process, redemptive moments which can bring healing, hope, and a renewed sense of direction and purpose in relationships. The authors are all practiced in listening, whether it be listening in worship, listening to those we are discipling, or really listening to the Word of God through the practice of lectio divina. This collection of essays is a prescription for a new period of health and vitality for the church.’

My own essay was titled, Why Listen?: Considering Contemporary Culture, Christianity and the value of Listening. To give a flavour here is the concluding paragraph:

I would want to argue that, it is both appropriate and challenging to suggest that, like post-Exodus Israel, the people of this world need to live with the knowledge that when they cry out the Church of Christ hears their cries and is both willing and able to respond. As Lucy Winkett wishes to say, listening to individuals and communities around us, ‘reveals a variety of involuntary, visceral lamenting sounds in reaction to forces of destruction.’1 Therefore, wherever real needs exist, the church has a God-given, Christ-inspired mandate to listen and so be engaged: Asylum, poverty, people-trafficking, housing, education, employment, healthcare, youth issues, crime, marriage, community development, the environment, urban regeneration, international relief, trade justice, globalisation, human rights, taxation, addiction, discrimination, care for the elderly, foreign policy, and metal health, and so the list goes on. ‘All listening begins and ends in God. The God who listens in infinite compassion is the God who creates in each of us the desire to listen to him, to his world, to each other, to ourselves so that, filled with his Spirit, we might continue his work here on earth.’2

1 Lucy Winkett, Sound, 48.
2Anne Long, Listening, 179.