Call and response community

Alice YoungFrontPage, News, Pastor

In Japanese culture an important part of conversation is ‘aizuchi’. Aizuchi consists of frequent interjections throughout a conversation to indicate that we’re listening attentively to whatever the speaker is saying. Aizuchi is similar to saying, “uh-huh,” “really,” “I see,” “I get it,” and so on. Without aizuchi, the speaker might think you’re uninterested in what they’re saying. Similarly, if you’re talking on the phone and don’t use aizuchi, then a conversation might be full of, “Hello??” “Can you hear me?” “Are you there?”

The concept of ‘aizuchi’ reminds me of Christian community in a ‘call-response’ kind of way. In community there is speaking and listening, giving and receiving, sharing and responding, grieving and celebrating. At different times we take different roles in this ‘call and response’ dance.  For this to work effectively we need an active posture that is ready to respond to others by being present, through listening and praying, bringing encouragement and supporting in practical ways too.

In Nehemiah chapter 8, Ezra reads the book of the Law to the people after the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem is complete. The people “listened attentively” and as Ezra praised the Lord the people responded, “Amen, Amen”. Nehemiah and other leaders encouraged the people, “do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength”. The people were then encouraged to go and eat together, to fellowship and celebrate God’s provision and goodness.

This is a great picture of Christian community. It illustrates a community that calls and responds, that interjects with ‘Amens’ and ‘I hear you’, and ‘I get it’. Let’s not be the community that forgets ‘aizuchi’, that goes silent on the other end of the conversation. Let’s hear and respond, encouraging and supporting one another in God’s love and grace.


Photo by taylor hernandez on Unsplash