Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Voice


The music library on my iTunes is a mess. So while trying to clean it up the other day I came across a few files I didn't expect to find....didn't even remember they were there. 

They were of me. 

Not of me singing, although with the advent of various iPad/iPhone apps, there does exist recording projects not for general distribution.  When coupled with those projects I have done for public consumption, I've amassed a decent body of work. 

No, these files were of me preaching. 

They were of sermons preached between 2004-2008. There's about a half dozen or so.  I don't recall loading them up.  I've wondered if they got caught up in my library when I changed the location of my music from the onboard hard drive to an external one.

My first impulse was to clean them out, delete them.  Why bother?  No one is more critical of the preacher than the one who preached it. There was a time when that self criticism would devolve into self loathing, but that ain't me no more!

So while tempted to delete them, I didn't. Instead, I play-listed them, put in the earbuds, and let them serve as the soundtrack for my nightly walk. 

Thought it might be fun to see if I could remember preaching them. 

I didn't. 

But there was something I heard that sparked remembrance. Something I'd not heard in some time. 

It was the voice. 

There were flashes of the prophetic. I guess it could have been there since, but messages carefully calibrated for context lose there, uh, "umph" (that's a homiletics term).  And I've been deep in the wilderness of my own spirit since, so I'm not sure I could have heard it anyway. 

But I've "Come out the wilderness," in the last year, so ears that can hear, do. 

"Hey!  There he is!  I know that guy!"

It's not they were extraordinary, in fact I'm quite sure they weren't, but they were proclaimed with conviction. To be sure ("to be sure" was a favorite clarifier of my Hebrew Bible professor at Vandy, Walter Harrelson, may he rest in peace), if you can't preach prophetically from the pulpit I stood in back those days, you may as well hang it up and go home. 

Within any vocation there is a moment when one in pursuit of it finds their voice. It happens when confidence is imbued from the solidarity and faith found in those who believe in you and claimed internally as being true.   It's that  moment when all you've done before, all you've studied and practiced flows freely.  The product of that acceptance is "the voice."

I've witnessed it happen. It is a glorious thing to behold. 

We clergy live into many roles in our work--pastor, priest, prophet. Because the need of the moment may require more energy from one nature of work than the other, some parts of our voice stand back to make room for what is more necessary. 

I know this is so. I've done it.

Sometimes we don't utter the prophetic not because we need to be more pastoral or priestly, but because we're afraid of the consequences that come from having done so. Scripture is pretty clear about what happens to prophets.

This whole "follower of Jesus" thing is not for the faint of heart.

Because if the gospel we preach is only a warm tub of cheap grace goo, it's not real. If it's not making us squirm as it confronts us then we're not speaking it. 

If it's only about "them" and not at all about "us" then we are deluding ourselves, and are just playing at being church...which is really the best definition of a hypocrite I've found..."play acting."  

The Gospel that needs to be spoken must be with a voice that even if silenced "the very stones would cry out."

Well, I haven't been playing at it, but I have been careful, and I think necessarily so for context. 

But having heard something I'd missed, it reminded me of a part of my call that cannot be denied...it must be spoken. 

And it will be. 



- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

1 comment:

Derek Hickman said...

Good post!