Prayer from the Assembly: Listening with the Heart

Prayer from the Assembly: Listening with the Heart June 17, 2014

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

This week, I’m gathering with Presbyterians from across the country for the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA).  Whatever your faith-community or denomination, I invite you to join with me and with others in morning prayer each day this week, engaging the Pentecost text from Acts 2:1-21.  Over the course of this week, I invite you to read and engage the full text of that Scripture in your life and in your prayer.

This morning, let us pray with verses 5-13 of Acts 2:

Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs– in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”

The experience of the Spirit in community also can issue forth in bewilderment. Pentecost offers a profusion of speech – each speaking as the Spirit enabled, each speaking of God’s deeds of power in Jesus Christ, with others hearing them speak in their own native language. It was almost too much speech to take in. They were amazed and astonished and perplexed.

And so they thought that those speaking must be drunk.

Here are some questions for your prayer this morning:

  • When have you been misunderstood? What did that feel like?
  • When have you felt like you have been truly heard and understood? What did that feel like?
  • What made the difference?

Holy God, give us hearts to hear each other. We come from different places  — from north and south, and east and west. Even as we are one in Christ, we can come from different perspectives, we can see the world and understand you differently. We speak different languages. All this can leave us bewildered and perplexed. Through your great love for us in Jesus Christ, help us to understand each other, and to live for you.  Amen.


Scott Clark is the Chaplain and Associate Dean of Student Life at San Francisco Theological Seminary, a seminary of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and of the ecumenical Graduate Theological Union.  Additionally, Scott’s ministry includes advocacy for the full inclusion of all people within the life of the church.  A former attorney, he has represented Presbyterian ministers who have been brought up on disciplinary charges by the church for celebrating the marriages of same-gender couples, and he currently serves on the board of More Light Presbyterians.

This week, Scott is participating in the national General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA), which will be considering a number of faith issues, including the marriage of same-gender couples.  Scott is participating in the Assembly as an “Overture Advocate” (one of the advocates sent from regional presbyteries on a particular issue).  With others, he is advocating for an amendment to the Presbyterian constitution that would affirm marriage equality for all people, including same-gender couples and their families.  Scott also is participating in the General Assembly as part of the team representing San Francisco Theological Seminary, hoping to open and energize discussion about innovation in ministry and in theological education. 


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