– Hi, I’m Bishop Brian. I want to speak to you today about being distracted, about paying attention, about turning our face to Jesus. This past winter I was reading an article in the New York Times about Howard Rheingold. Rheingold is a critic, a writer who’s had a longstanding interest in the internet and how in particular social media has shaped us in ways both for good and for ill. Particularly, he’s concerned about what its done with our ability to pay attention and to make use of information and not to be overwhelmed by it. In the article he had this great quote. “Attention is a limited resource, “so pay attention to where you pay attention.”
The practice of paying attention is a spiritual practice, when we find ourselves distracted thinking about Jesus saying to Martha, “Martha you are distracted by many things, “but Mary has chosen the good, “has chosen the one to sit at my feet to pray, “to be with me, to pay attention to Jesus.” You and I are often distracted by many things. And this past year of COVID maybe its been a chance to focus as we maybe traveled less or been at home more. Maybe we found in some ways our lives have gotten simpler, in many other ways our lives have gotten more complex. But I would encourage us as a diocese as we need to keep paying attention to where Jesus is taking us next to realize this is not a time to have even more distractions in our life, but to pay attention to where we are paying attention.
There was a hymn that I sang as a child, turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face. And the things of this world will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace. I didn’t realize it at the time but in many ways that hymn is an invitation to silence to centering prayer, to contemplation, to gaze upon the face of Jesus. When we pay attention to Jesus and gaze upon his face, that doesn’t mean we disregard the world or we disregard the concerns of the world, but we see them rightly. We see them through the lens of the Christ, the risen Christ, the crucified Christ. Who’s called to lead us into what’s next. The call of discipleship is an intentional call to pay attention to who’s with us on the journey, who needs to join us, to places of hurt, of harm, of reconciliation and growth and nurture and repair.
So as we continue friends in this time of 2021 moving deeper into this resurrection season of Easter, pay attention to where you pay attention. Pay attention to those things that distract us, that are truly distractions and not helpful. But at times realizing sometimes that distraction maybe is also the call of Jesus to something new to what’s next. Pay attention to where you pay attention, turn your eyes upon the face of Jesus and be aware that the face of Jesus is so often found in the poor, the marginalized, those we see as the misfit who’re really calling us to the next thing where God is already showing up. Amen.