God who notices

Published 1st June 2020 by lucy moore

Charis Lambert writes: Last week a small group of Messy leaders spent a quiet morning (remotely) thinking about God noticing through the stories of Hannah, Samuel and David. In reading each story we asked five questions:

Who wanted to be noticed?
Who was avoiding notice?
Who needed to be made to notice?
Who noticed the wrong things?
Who was noticed and how did that make them feel?

This led us to thinking about ourselves – how good are we at noticing? And also do we like/want/need to be noticed?
We were reminded that God is a God who notices – right from creation, God has seen the things he has made and enjoyed noticing them. He saw that they were good. But God does more than just spectate; he really notices what is in the heart:
‘From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all humankind; from his dwelling-place he watches all who live on earth; he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do.’Psalm 33:13–15
And God notices all even those who others do not notice:
‘Who is like the Lord our God, who is seated on high, who looks far down upon the heavens and the earth? He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap.’Psalm 113:5-7
God uses others to do the noticing – even when they might initially get it wrong. Eli and Samuel were privileged to notice others – the unexpected, those with a back story, those who were too young to ‘yet know’ and those who were not considered worthy to be given notice.
These thoughts led us to thinking about our own Messy Churches and asking the same five questions. We acknowledged that Messy Church is about noticing the ones that traditional church has largely overlooked. And we rejoice that the format of Messy Church gives time for noticing… as long as we’re not too caught up in the machinery of delivery.
However in this time of lockdown amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, these questions about noticing provide many extra challenges to us as leaders and Messy practitioners.
Our normal Messy Church has been turned inside out – faith has been sent home rather than experienced at Messy Church; faith is depending on nuclear families rather than one big family; faith is being felt through online interpretation rather than face-to-face contact; faith is trying to survive rather than thrive. It is challenging to think about what and who to notice, but we acknowledged the need to:

Remember where we have come from – noticing and celebrating.
See where people are right now – noticing and acknowledging the pain and struggles of life, the lockdown, the ‘new normal’.
Look forward – noticing new opportunities for Messy Church and maybe new ways of being Messy Church.

We noticed that there was a sense of passing on in all the stories – handing back or over to God and letting younger people take the lead. Maybe there is a need to notice others and mentor them so they can grow and lead us onwards.
This is such a challenging time – maybe even more so as we emerge from a lockdown to… what!? There is so much to NOTICE…
…but one of the group movingly summed up so much of what we are all feeling in this poem:
I sometimes long to be noticedNot for what I doNot for what I sayBut for who I really am… 
A child of God Created in his image A daughter of the King (And how amazing is that?) 
I may not be male I may not be ordained I may not even be a Licensed Lay Minister But I am… 
A child of God Created in his image A daughter of the King (And how amazing is that?) 
I may be 60 years old I may live in the house with the amazing view and a lovely garden I may know so many people but Those things are not important, rather acknowledge that I am… 
A child of God Created in his image A daughter of the King (And how amazing is that?)

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