The Rector’s Letter

September 2009

 

Dear Friends,

I don’t know how many of you have an old fashioned telephone. I’m not talking receiver-sitting-in-cradle-and-use-a-finger-to-turn-the-dial 700 series GPO sort of telephone. No, I’m talking older old-fashioned. I’m talking a tall, elegant, just an earpiece to lift off the hook sort of telephone. The very sort that Agatha Christie types would speak into conversing in classically clipped tones: ‘Pendlebury three, two, two: lady of the house speaking’ just prior to a blood curdling scream emanating from the Scullery. We’ve got one of these phones next to the loo. Probably more information than you either needed or wanted. But we have.

The room used to be a bedroom. It’s been changed into a bathroom but the telephone point was left intact and it just so happened to be where the loo was going to be situated. We also had a spare telephone. Tall, elegant, lift the earpiece: ‘Pendlebury three, two, two: lady of the house speaking - EEEeeekkk!’ sort of phone. With a dial to turn (which our children hate because it takes too long when you can’t just press the buttons). No speed dial on this museum piece. Anyway, the point is, I was looking at it while splashing in the bath and on its centre dial, under the manufacturing marque of the General Electric Company is printed in fading letters: ‘Listen before speaking.’

It struck me as being very useful advice. For life in general.

And for Christians, it seemed good advice for a faith-filled life. How often do we rush at God with our list of wants and needs. How rare are the times when we take time. To listen, before speaking.

How many arguments would be prevented; how much stress dissolved; how much conflict averted if we took the advice, not only of my old-fashioned telephone, but also to the letter that James writes to the early church in which he says: ‘Take note of this: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.’ (James 1:19)

Back in the Old Testament, in Deuteronomy 30:19,20 we’re given good advice for life: ‘Choose life  .  .  .  and that you might love the Lord your God, listen to his voice and hold fast to him.’

Whether you prefer the wisdom of Scripture or the wisdom of the General Electric Company we surely do well to listen a little bit more, listen a little bit longer.


Jonathan

 

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