OSFGroup Reflections

The Listening Post

Some of you have been on Pilgrimage here from the beginning, and so you remember the days of the Online Spiritual Formation Groups (OSFGroups). Back in those days (five whole years ago), we experimented with group platforms while simultaneously exploring focused spiritual themes and their intersection with the Bible, each of us on our own time in writing in a private space. These groups served their purpose relatively well, but the problem with “on our own time” is that eventually all of us (including me) ran out of time, or thought we did, and so regardless of how many weeks and exploration lasted, we usually all petered out about halfway through.

Now that, thanks to a global pandemic, video-conferencing has become both indispensable and also not so weird and intimidating for most people, it seems time to revive–and revise–the groups. Enter The Listening Post, the Pilgrimage’s latest informal Bible study. Unlike the previous OSFGroups, this group meets live over zoom twice a month, and there is no set start or end date–which means you can join anytime and there’s no formal commitment.

“Listening Post” has military, spy-craft connotations, which is not what we’re going for here. We’re trying to support each other, not take each other down. But also, let’s be honest. We do live in polarized times, and not much real listening of any kind goes on in our current cultural climate. Lots of talking. Lots of yelling. And any silence comes from canceling and blocking. True listening can be scary: We might hear things we don’t want to hear. We might feel like our silence implies we are agreeing with things we strongly oppose. We might even find, possibly to our own discomfort, that the other human being we thought was the devil is actually human…and maybe even likable. When it comes to “listening” to the Bible, we might discover we’re similarly disconcerted. What if it doesn’t say what we thought it said? What if it says what we don’t want it to say? What if our ideas about God change?

A small Listening group has already started meeting once a month. At the moment, we’re listening imaginatively to short readings of the story of Moses in Exodus via lectio divina. We’ve been talking about identity and calling and will continue to follow this storyline for a while until we collectively discern together that it’s time for a break or time to explore something else. Anyone 18 and up is welcome to join this group at any time, and, while it isn’t a traditional Bible study (there are many other organizations who offer excellent ones), since it isn’t a structured course either, it doesn’t cost anything to join. You don’t need to be a Christian or have prior knowledge of the Bible–but it’s also great if you are or you do.

Yes, the Pilgrimage is a Jesus-focused, Bible-engaging ministry, but as long as you get that (and also that the primary language here is English, due to my own limitations at present–although translators would be amazing!), literally the only other prerequisites to being part of this group are a willingness (including on the part of me, the facilitator) to practice radical listening and respect, to ask curious questions of each other and the passages we’re reading, and to be open to the idea that God might just show up among us and have something special to say…to you.

The Listening Post meets on Zoom on the second and fourth Wednesday of every month, from 10:30 a.m. to noon. (This means the next one’s tomorrow, if you’re reading this day-of-posting.) If you want to learn to listen and be listened to, send us a message. Let’s hear about what you’re looking for and see if this group is the right fit for you.

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