I Get the News I need From the Weather Report or Come and listen  –Simon and Garfunkel and Psalm 66:14

I think it’s safe to say that we are at least somewhat obsessed with weather forecasts and predictions in this region.  Most folks who joined in the Faith Over Fear: Choosing Unity Over Extremism interfaith pilgrimage on Sunday had heard and prepared, at least based on outward appearances. That the pilgrims came out in such blustery weather suggests all were resolved to do some internal prep as well.

While walking with Miriam and Carol, we shared some wide-ranging concerns over where we find ourselves as a nation—such extreme language, such different perspectives. It is difficult to watch and listen to the daily divisive installments now available 24/7. We moderate intake for our wellbeing. Is dialogue possible with fellow citizens expressing such opposing frames of reference? The sense of urgency and yearning for unity, love, acceptance of and safety for all God’s children seemed to propel those sharing prayer and steps from the Washington Hebrew Congregation to the Cathedral and finally down Massachusetts Avenue to the Islamic Center.

In Advent we are made keenly aware of the call to listen and to hear, to pay attention, to do something—prepare! Sleepers awake! A Voice astounds us! Hark! Tis the watchman’s cry! Lo, the Baptist’s herald cry. Hark, a Thrilling Voice is Sounding. There’s a voice in the wilderness crying.

We learn in today’s gospel reading one consequence of not truly hearing. Zechariah, who did not believe the angel Gabriel, was made temporarily mute until the birth of his son John the Baptist!

Our interfaith leaders offered inspiring and challenging words, words we wanted and needed to hear. In his Call to Conscience, Imam Johari Abdul-Malik, boldly proposed that we have ignored and not heard some voices in our midst, and perhaps the anger, fear, and distrust that we are witnessing are consequences.

As we seek in this new year to dig deeper and build understanding among our faith communities, let us strive to listen and hear with compassion, mercy and understanding. Help us, O Lord, to offer love where there is hate and to extend warm hospitality and protection to the stranger.  Let us gather for homemade soups, conversation and action.

Soon we will be singing Charles Wesley’s “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!” Our work lays ahead to welcome in the newborn King. As Presiding Bishop Michael Curry preached, passionately referring to the poem by Langston Hughes, “hold fast to dreams.”