January 14, 2011
A New Offering
Excerpt from Psalm 40:1-11
“Sacrifice and offering you do not desire, but you have given me an open ear.”
Reflection by Felix Carrion
I heard a man say, “My father once asked me, son, why do you think God made you with two ears and one mouth? Not knowing, I asked my father why. Son, God made you with two ears and one mouth to do a lot more listening than talking.”
This father could see his son was a talker. He knew that if his son persisted in this practice, he would learn little, because understanding comes with being quiet long enough to really chew and taste the stories and lessons the ears swallow.
The second clause in this sentence seems to have no connection to the first one. “Sacrifice and offering you do not desire, but you have given me an open ear.” But the sentence is perfect. In the psalmist’s days, people were taught that God not only desires sacrifice and burnt offerings but God required them. But here he says the opposite: what God most wants from us is the offering of an open ear.
In Hebrew, another rendering of the sentence is Sacrifice and offering you do not desire, but ears you have dug for me. We are taught in the Christian walk to give offerings. We offer our time, our service to others, our tithes, our skills. But sometimes it’s harder to be still and quiet and offer our listening ears. In this New Year why not make open ears a new offering to God, to a son, a daughter, a parent, a friend, a neighbor, a stranger?
O God, help me be still and quiet so I can offer my listening ears. Amen.
About the Author
Felix Carrion is Coordinator of The Stillspeaking Ministry, United Church of Christ.