True Voices

It’s going to be hot today.

A massive garage sale opens in the church parking lot around 9.  Two of our members have decided the next moment in their lives is to be lived in Kenya, working with orphans there (if I have my story straight), and this garage sale is the first financial salvo thrown in the direction of their new call.  (Bye-bye foosball table…it’s been fun.)  I’ll be playing music indoors 10-12, practicing with the worship band led by a young man who wants to be a career worship leader, and he’s got the tools to do it.  Then it’s giving a band member a ride home, then home for a quick clothes change, then off to Taproot Theatre to give a curtain speech.  (That’s a new one.)  Then home to finish prep for tomorrow’s sermon and next week’s Pleasant Valley Family Camp, where I will spend the mornings talking to campers about identity, and the Imago Dei.  And finally, time spent with a couple of friends, and sleep.

Back to identity.

Sometimes I don’t feel much like myself.

When people say such things, I always wonder, “Who else do you feel like?”  And with that word “feel” right in the middle of the sentence, I figure the whole chain of thought is suspect.  How else to say it other than some of my actions as I move through the days seem…well…disconnected.  Disconnected from what?  From myself.  From my understanding of the ways God has taught me to move through the world, and through my life.  It’s not the discomfort of trying new things, or being out of the comfort zone.  Frankly, there’s exhilaration in that, deeper connection.  No, this is drifting, speaking from somewhere other than my center.  Spitting out outlines, but carving few poems.  Meetings with people I care for concerning important events, but few songs getting sung.   Or singing songs, but not making much music.  There’s the old nightmare that all actors suffer: I missed my entrance, I don’t know my lines.  Or worse.  You forget the play you’re in.

I picked up one of Frederick Beuchner’s books this morning, and as always, he reminded me, called me back.   (I started to title this “Reading Beuchner.”)  Beuchner always speaks in his own voice.  It’s not a preacher’s voice–it’s a man’s voice.  A writer’s voice.   It’s a Beuchner voice, which I’m pretty sure is the only one God’s interested in him using.   One of the realities of speaking to a church is that old temptation to speak in a voice the church wants to hear rather than the one God actually placed in you.   It’s subtle, not overt, and frankly, not a thing that anyone is even thinking about.   No one says, “Stop speaking that way.  Speak like this.”  But in the world of eternal stakes being played out in committee meeting after committee meeting, the perpetual name of this earnest game is persuasion, and as with any group of humans gathered, there’s a certain amount of lobby and spin, sweet and sarcastic, intentional and un.   It’s “not their bad”, as the kids might say…people just hunting truth in the best way they know how, letting you know in strong tones they’re pretty sure they’ve found it.

After those two paragraphs, I feel more like myself.

It’s simple, really.  Worship in spirit and in truth.  Live that way, too, because it’s all worship, it’s all grace.  Jesus knew we’d worship him in lackluster and falseness, mostly, so he reminds us.   The words I say, he tells us, are life.   Peter heard him, and years later, told a church that if anyone was going to speak, he should do it as if God himself were speaking.  Maybe he was remembering that day Jesus told them about  words that had life in them.

Enough.

I’m far too busy to be still today.

But as Martin Luther might say, I’m far too busy not to be.

Thomas Merton says the search for God leads to the self, while the search for the self leads nowhere.

Using the voice God gave me…

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