Too many people treat listening like it's only a pause as they think about what they want to say next. Real listening is really a radical act of humility: it’s not about you and your issues; it’s about humbly taking in what is being shared by someone else. When you let yourself humbly listen, you let yourself be holy; and wholly, remade. No matter what words people use--everyone is just asking to be loved—to be listened to, to matter to the listener.
“When we listen to words not to indict someone other, but to inform us, they can form us into a cup of understanding. This quenches the world's parched places.” (Rev. R. Rohr) Though sometimes listening to words changes our minds, when we can see the Truth of the Word in the words! Sometimes words don't need to change our minds—as much they just need to change our hearts. Change not the way we think — but the way we love—and that opens the door to grace. When grace walks in — the world is better for it. (Thanks Rev Richard for the thoughts you share!)
I do think of these things as I fill the silence with sound. In song, the text, based on the Word, matters. Sound, well-orchestrated, can open hearts and minds to God’s grace. It does matter though, how we listen—to sound and to silence.
Are you attending, paying close attention, to the story being told—both spoken and sung? Are you adding your voice, your own story, to the music and harmony of unity and communion of us all? Is your heart open to really hear what is being said and sung? If not, don’t be discouraged. Everything takes practice; everything—every little or large thing—takes practice. You just have to start somewhere. My suggestion is to begin with the opening hymn; pick up the hymnal and take in the text and join us in singing God’s Word. Listen to how your own voice layers into the voices around you. Joining is joy, when God is the point. More later; in the meantime: Keep singing!