Awaken My Ears, O Lord

Awaken My Ears, O Lord


Rev. Dawn M. Adams is the minister of the First Congregational Church of Brimfield (MA), UCC. If you would like to know more about the church or her, she invites you to visit or follow her on Instagram @pastordawnadams or @BrimUCC.

Scripture: Isaiah 50:4-9 (NRSV)

The Servant’s Humiliation and Vindication

The Lord God has given me
   the tongue of a teacher,
that I may know how to sustain
   the weary with a word.
Morning by morning he wakens—
   wakens my ear
   to listen as those who are taught.
The Lord God has opened my ear,
   and I was not rebellious,
   I did not turn backwards.
I gave my back to those who struck me,
   and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard;
I did not hide my face
   from insult and spitting.

The Lord God helps me;
   therefore I have not been disgraced;
therefore I have set my face like flint,
   and I know that I shall not be put to shame;
   he who vindicates me is near.
Who will contend with me?
   Let us stand up together.
Who are my adversaries?
   Let them confront me.
It is the Lord God who helps me;
   who will declare me guilty?
All of them will wear out like a garment;
   the moth will eat them up.

Reflection: Awaken My Ears, O Lord



Awaken your ears and listen.

We tend to understand the word “listen” as an auditory act which connects outside sounds with internal cerebral understanding. The “listen” introduced in this text, though, is so much more. The call “to listen” means not only to hear, but also to accept, to believe, to act accordingly. “To listen” is part of a whole-self transformation: to hear, to obey, to become, to do.

This word, “listen” (in Hebrew, the word is Shema), is also the beginning and the name of one of the most important prayers in Judaism. It begins, "Hear /listen, O Israel, Adonai is our God. Adonai is one." and then is followed with our responsibility to love the Lord with all our heart, all our soul, and all our might. The prayer instructs us to not only to write these words on our heart but to teach them, to bind them to ourselves, and to put them on our doorposts. To listen and hear is not simply an act of gathering information, it is meant to move us to acceptance and, in the end, to action.

Although many Christians read this Isaiah passage because they believe it points us toward the suffering servitude of Jesus, it is perhaps just, if not more, important to note this injunction to “listen” as we move into Holy Week. This story of Jesus’ last week, which we will be interacting with, is meant to be heard with this heavier and deeper meaning of “Listen.” 

In the Isaiah passage, this active, full-bodied listening leads to Isaiah being able to set his face like flint and endure the hardships to come.  Similarly, we hear Jesus, in the Gospel of Luke (9:51), also steadfastly set his face toward Jerusalem. Listening leads to action, action to potential consequence. The consequence, however, is faced resolutely knowing that the action was born from a sense of justice and love.

When we truly hear and listen to God’s word, we are to be moved by it; moved not just emotionally, but also in what we do. Truly listening to and living God’s word calls us into places and situations we may have previously avoided or turned away from. When God’s word enters our heart as well as our ears, we are compelled to respond. As protestant reformer Martin Luther said, “My conscience is captive to the word of God . . .Here I stand; I can do no other. God help me.”

Thus, as we listen, this week especially, to the story of Jesus, let us listen more deeply. Let us ask God to awaken and open our ears more fully so that we might hear not just what happened, but what may happen if we allow it to be so.  Let us, through our sacred story, listen for how God is talking to us today. Let us be immersed and changed by this story so that we too may set our face to wherever God is calling us.               


Almighty and Holy God,
Creator of all that is, was, and ever shall be,
Open my ears that I may hear your word.
As I hear it, do not let it slip out unheeded.
Instead, let your word settle on my heart.
Let it find a home there.
As it becomes a part of me and etches itself within me, may I become supple enough to receive what it seeks to say.
Through your sacred story, may I be changed and live in a way pleasing to you and in the best interests of my siblings and the world.

New Prayer Requests:

We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Marlene Gasdia-Cochrane at

Prayers of Intercession:

  • For the people of Ukraine whose lives continue to be shattered by war.
  • For those grieving or suffering due to the ~9,400 gun violence deaths that happened in the US since the start of the new year.
  • For the friends and family of The Rev. Lois Stetson Buchiane who passed away March 12, 2023. She served in North Orange and Tully, MA, supervised theological students from Andover Newton, was active in Conference associations, and served on the Board of the historic Massachusetts Conference UCC.
  • For the massive rise in anti-LGBTQ legislation.

Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:

This Week in History:

March 26, 1953 (70 years ago): Dr. Jonas Salk announces vaccine for polio, a disease that attacks the nervous system and can cause varying degrees of paralysis. [History

“Study the past if you would define the future.”

Dawn Adams

Dawn Adams is a member of the Immigration, Refugee and Asylum Task Team, and pastor of First Congregational Church of Brimfield, UCC (MA).

March 27, 2023
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