Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 5; 147:1-11, Jeremiah 25:30-38, Romans 10:14-21, John 10:1-18
Unless you’re a recording artist (and possibly even then), the sound of your own voice probably disarms you a little, especially the first time you hear it. When what we believed to be our umber tones turn out to be more a reedy beige, or when we discover we use “like” and “um” more than we use nouns, it plays with our self-image just a little bit. If we are without speech or hearing, a similarly disorienting experience might be something like seeing ourselves walk on video for the first time – that’s how I move my hips? Suddenly it becomes obvious to us the whole world experiences us very differently than we experience ourselves.
Today’s scriptures use the metaphor of voice in very different ways. John’s gospel compares Jesus to a shepherd, and his disciples to sheep who recognize their true shepherd’s voice. This is how the author of Psalm 5 describes the voices of his enemies:
For there is no truth in their mouths;
their hearts are destruction;
their throats are open graves;
they flatter with their tongues.
Contained in both metaphors is the common idea that how something is said may be equally or more important than what is said.
When we speak about our faith, or anything that is important to us, it might be a good idea to take a step back and find out how we really sound to people. When we are attempting to reassure someone that God loves them despite their sinful nature, do our chosen words and tones really come across as “God loves you” or do they emphasize condemnation? Granted some of the interpretation is on the listener, but given how you just found out your charming laugh sounds like a goose that stepped on another goose, asking a friend for some candid feedback couldn’t hurt. Maybe that’s one of the reasons Jesus dispatched seventy disciples to spread the gospel in pairs: for a bit of a sound check.
We have good news to share. Jesus is calling. Let’s make sure we deliver his message with the best voice we can.
Comfort: When you listen for someone’s truth, you help set them free.
Challenge: Whether you like or dislike a story, its most important element is the truth it contains.
Prayer: Lord of truth and light, teach me to be discerning and fair. Amen.
Discussion: How do you react when you feel like someone isn’t listening to you?
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