Nestled into the northwest corner of our building here on Brady Street is a grand old house. While offices take up much of the house these days, the living room of that house continues to be called the living room. Various groups of people meet there on couches and solid chairs for study and conversation. Couples are married in front of the fireplace with intimate collections of family and friends. Funerals are planned as sun streams in the big windows.
I have spent a lot of time in our beloved church house living room, so I was surprised to have recently discovered something about that room that I’ve missed. It’s not some unique aspect of the architecture, or the beautiful tile work around the hearth. I had never noticed that the clock on the wall ticks, and ticks loudly.
I noticed it for the first time a few weeks ago. Every fall I help lead a grief group of support and care for people stepping into new life after a loved one has died. I had been rushing around, as often happens on a Sunday morning. I came in late to a room that was already loud with conversation and connecting. So we lit a candle and the room quieted as we opened with prayer. I took a deep breath before speaking those words of gratitude and hope, mostly to still my own rushing mind and quickly beating heart. And in that silence, I heard it. The clock was ticking. Loudly.
I’d never noticed it before. But there it was, making each second known. After that prayer, for the rest of our time together, I couldn’t stop hearing it. As we talked, told stories, laughed and cried, I kept on hearing that simple, repeated pulse of the tick and tock. It wasn’t distracting, just there, persistent and regular and dependable. A steady undertone of our conversation.
God’s love is like that constant rhythmic undertone in our lives. It’s always there, ready to assure us, encourage us, and guide us. But we so often fail to notice it. Our lives become noisy and loud, making it nearly impossible to hear the whispers (and sometimes shouting) of our God who says, “I love you.”
But just because we can’t hear it, doesn’t mean that love is not there. God’s heart keeps beating, pulsing in love for us and this world. These are busy days for many of us, as we rush between our regular stuff and all the extra things of the holidays. There’s not only worry of our own expectations and longings but fears for our world and future. In the midst of all of is, God’s love for you keeps on going, like the tick tock of that living room clock. Steady and dependable and so very present.
When we make it a practice to stop and listen through prayer and worship, we’ll be able to hear that abiding tick tock of grace even in the noisiest of time. So take a minute or ten, or a full hour this weekend, and open your heart to listen. You’ll hear what’s been there all along, the ticking and tocking of grace, permeating every second of our lives with God’s love.
–Sara Olson-Smith, associate pastor