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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A Call to Stop and Listen Well

Maybe you have seen the word " Selah" in the Psalms and wondered about it. It appears in 39 of the Psalms. It is an interesting word found in Scripture, no so much a part of the text of Scripture but an instruction to mark the Scripture/Psalm with a point of emphasis.

It is thought to be a marking of emphasis for the conclusion of a major thought. In a way, it would be an instruction to " stop and listen" - break, a rest, an interlude, so that the preceding thought, important as it is, is heard and given consideration.

In June, my wife, Jean, and I took part in a pastors' retreat at a ranch in Texas. The ranch is named "Selah". It was a mountaintop experience: That is to say, it was a truly uplifting time and an experience of God's grace. For five days we took part in a fast, but this fast didn't have anything to do worth or without food. This was a media fast, an invitation to unplug from all the electronic devices that we are regularly connected to. No Television,(cell phones,Lap Tops, computers, internet, radio or Ipads.)(for update)
We went through withdrawal for a day or two, struggling to do without that which we were so used to, that which was regularly so much a part of our lives. During these days we spent a great deal of our time reading, including scripture. We spent time in prayer and time in dialogue with other pastors. There was time spent playing, fishing, resting, and so much more. How good it felt to fish again, and to top it off, I caught a nice bass.

In the course of five days new friendships had taken root, and when we left, we realized that we shared in a grace-filled moment. God was in the midst of those days: The conversations and time spent unplugged form the world were restful, like a rest that I haven't experienced in a long time. It was a holy time, s God was in those days and in the ranch named" Selah" It was a point of emphasis, a " stop and listen" moment, a time to drink deeply from the well of God's peace-filled presence.
Psalm 46 begins with these words:
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 
Therefore we will not fear though the earth should change, 
Though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea,
Though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.

A man named Martin Luther found such inspiration in those words that he wrote a powerful hymn based on those words that we continue to sing today:
" A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" No doubt Luther read that Psalm, stopped and listened, and then, in a moment of profound inspiration, wrote that stirring hymn. Take a media fast: unplug from the world and drink deeply from the grace-filled presence of the living God. Selah
The Rev. Time Carey is Pastor of Emanuel Lutheran Church in Hutchinson