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Finding Your Voice

February 2, 2019

During one of our trips up Old Fall River Road and down Trail Ridge Road last August, we encountered several marmots on the rock pile just above Rock Cut. They were chirping up a storm and I was intrigued what was causing their alarm. This marmot in particular was sounding the alarm when we saw a coyote crossing the tundra and then the road. The marmots had an excellent early warning system in place!

It was obvious that the lookout was heeding its call to watch and protect and it used its voice to sound the alarm! It knew exactly what it was supposed to do and responded to that call immediately.

What made me connect this incident with the reading from Jeremiah and Luke for this Sunday? Both of the readings have to do with finding a calling and finding your voice. In Jeremiah 1:6, we read about the prophet’s call. His response to God’s call is familiar to me as it resonates with my response to my own call to Ministry in 1980.

Then I said, “Ah, Lord GOD! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.”

I had just turned 20 when God called and trust me, I didn’t feel at all adequate or prepared. I had felt even less prepared in 1972 when God first called and I listened to friends who essentially said, “Are you kidding? You? A minister? Bwahahahahaha…”

Initially I responded to the call with excitement and trepidation. I would wonder and waver at points throughout my seminary training and really wonder when I took my first call. I was one of the youngest of my classmates in seminary. I was so much younger than the majority of members of the two little churches I served. And then I was the youngest Chaplain in age and rank during my first Active duty assignment with the Air Force.

So yes, I could definitely relate to Jeremiah’s response. This feeling of inadequacy was something I would continue to struggle with for the first three assignments. Finally, something turned around and I found a confidence that had been missing for all those years.

I know all too well how easy it can be to lose confidence in yourself and your voice. Yet just as the angel transformed Jeremiah’s fear into strength, God indeed can and does transform our fear into strength. It may not be as dramatic as the Lord touching your mouth, but God can do it if we only take the step out in faith.

Where Jeremiah had feelings of inadequacy in responding to his call, Jesus spoke with confidence to the hometown audience in the synagogue that day. At first there was a sense of “Oh wow, isn’t that Joseph and Mary’s kid?” The sense of awe and wonder quickly changed though when the crowd heard the next words that came out of his mouth. He had words of challenge for the hometown crowd and they didn’t like it one bit! They were ready to throw him off of the cliff when he quietly passed through the middle of them and left town.

Remembering well the first time I preached in my home church while I was in seminary, I can say that the response of my hometown congregation was much more favorable than what Jesus experienced! However, I also know that my first sermon was nothing like his response to the Isaiah passage in the Synagogue. One of the myriad of differences was the fact that I was still trying to find my voice while Jesus had no problem finding his voice or his message!

I have been preaching for 36 years now (32 years as an ordained pastor and Chaplain). It has been an amazing journey through so many valleys and over so many mountaintops thus far. Through it all, God has continued to call and my call has been continually re-enforced and challenged at the same time.

If I had to summarize what my call and message is, I would choose the words of Micah and Jesus. We are called to Do Justice, Love Kindness and Mercy, Walk Humbly with God. We are also called to Love God with all of our being and Love our Neighbors as ourselves. We are called as well to love ALL of our neighbors, even our enemies! This is a difficult challenge for your Padre on a daily, and sometimes hourly basis. Yet when I feel like it isn’t possible, God reminds me with a gentle nudge that it is when I don’t rely on myself to do it.

Dear reader, what is our call? What is our voice? That is as intimate and individual as your relationship with God as it is my own. I find encouragement and challenge in the following quotes from Dr Martin Luther King, Jr.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

The time is always right to do what is right.

It seems like today is a day for us to find our voices and speak up and speak out against the encroaching darkness. Especially the darkness which cloaks itself in the clothing of christianity (lower case is intentional)! Again, in the words of Dr King from his Letter from Birmingham Jail — In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.

Dear reader, how will we be remembered? By our silence or by the words God has given us to speak…

2 Comments
  1. Nancy Almond permalink

    Thank you for this one! Want you to know how much your posts mean to me. Not just inspiration, but sometimes challenging my thinking! Thanks Padre!

    On Sat, Feb 2, 2019, 6:27 PM Pastor Michael Moore’s Blog Michael Moore posted: ” During one of our trips up Old Fall River Road and > down Trail Ridge Road last August, we encountered several marmots on the > rock pile just above Rock Cut. They were chirping up a storm and I was > intrigued what was causing their alarm. This marmot in par” >

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