Listening & Learning

By Cameron Silsbee

Begin with prayer (5 minutes)

Gather together as a Community in a comfortable setting. Have somebody lead a prayer asking the Holy Spirit to lead and guide your time together.

Spend a few minutes catching up on life and discussing how the last Practice went.

Read this overview

The story of the Scriptures is one that speaks from the vantage point and on behalf of the oppressed. Poetry, narrative, legal code, wisdom literature, epistles, and apocalyptic writings are all used as a vehicle to give voice to the oppressed and those suffering injustice, and to call on God and God’s people to work towards justice.

Through Jesus of Nazareth, God himself experienced injustice. Although innocent of any wrongdoing, Jesus was executed by the political and religious officials. In a staggering act of care and concern, God chose to take on the perspective and experience of the oppressed and those experiencing injustice.

But in a country and a culture that has historically been the one committing, promoting, or ignoring injustice within its society, the themes in the Scriptures of justice for the oppressed and the inherent value and dignity of every human can become dulled or altogether ignored. When this happens, the cries of the oppressed are filtered through political or economic lenses, and oftentimes are misunderstood or tuned out altogether.

Our responsibility as apprentices of Jesus is to see the injustice, to listen to the cries of the oppressed, to learn about their experiences and their struggles. And then to show compassion through appropriate action.

Discuss the coming week’s Practice (5 minutes)

At times the urge for action against racism and quick, concrete changes causes one of two damaging scenarios: actions that are intended to help actually causing more harm than good, or a growing apathy in the face of slow change. 

For the apprentice of Jesus, caring for the oppressed and working for justice is a lifelong commitment. One which requires listening, learning, and practice. But it’s one that must be undertaken by apprentices of Jesus in obedience to his command to love our neighbors as ourselves.

For this week’s Practice we will engage in listening and learning, hearing from those suffering under the weight of racism and injustice. Listening and learning helps us to grow in empathy for those suffering in ways that most have not experienced. It also helps us to learn what those oppressed are asking for, and how we can participate and support them. 

Set aside a time to listen to one (or more) of the following:

Author Jasmine Holmes: From Mother to Son on Race, Religion, and Relevance

Author, poet, artist, Jackie Hill Perry & Preston Perry: So… about racism

Pastor Charlie Dates: I Can’t Breathe

AND Campaign President Justin Giboney: A Christian Response to the Death of George Floyd and Ensuing Riots

Next week when you meet, discuss with your Community which of these you listened to and how they struck you. What were specific thoughts, feelings, and reactions you had as you listened? What did you learn? It may be helpful to write these down in order to share them next week with your Community. 

Work through these discussion questions together as a Community (15 – 20 minutes)

  1. How much thought and attention have you given to the themes of injustice and oppression in the Scriptures? 
  2. What difference is there between watching and reading about acts of racism and listening to the perspective of those that experience racism? Do you tend to focus your attention on one or the other?

Take Communion (10 minutes)

Close in prayer (5 minutes)