What voice does Jesus use?
You are the light of the world…
Matthew 5: 14
It’s been my experience that negative criticism rarely comes to a pastor directly. It usually sneaks in the back, having made its way through a few people who buzz about until, maybe a month or so later, the news is shared. Interestingly, the short missile is presented as if I had already heard it, as if I had already known.
One of the clearest intended bites happened about five years ago. It was intended to knock me down. “You know, Will, worship can be like a pep rally.”
Huh. Pep rally.
I immediately thought, “Yeah, it is.” It took moments to guess the original source and, when I did, I saw the point. Some don’t want to be hyped in worship. Some what a staid, don’t take it out of the box message with no surprises. Ever.
For the movers and shakers in the pews tomorrow, for those who come to worship for the revitalizing “experience” of the living, Holy Spirit empowering lives toward peace, love, and justice, this is not wrong. This is not wrong at all. Instead, this is someone else sharing worship needs, and here in the UCC, we need to hear others’ needs. Even more so, we need to learn from them.
In tomorrow’s lectionary passage, Jesus says to His followers, “You’re the light of the world.” I don’t think His message followed a rockin’ praise band with a talented (all right, enthusiastic) drummer. I don’t think He spoke to an audience wired from the expressos in eco-friendly cups carried in from the social hub in the lobby. I also don’t think He sounded harsh. I don’t think He sounded bitter, or even demanding. I think He sounded like Jesus.
So, what does Jesus sound like? To answer that, I want you to look around in worship tomorrow morning. Look at the one who will NEVER hear a drum in church. Look at the one who NEEDS to hear a drum in church. Consider everybody. Jesus did. He spoke to our needs. He spoke to our hearts. The voice He used—the voice He uses—reaches us all.
Yes, worship is going to feel like a pep rally sometimes. Mark that in your calendar. I’m not insulted; you shouldn’t be either. Worship also includes silence, reverence, a slow, gentle rhythm, and what we all need—Jesus’ love.
My critic noted what was happening in worship. Thank you. I invite you to notice what happens in worship, too. Also, notice what happens in the world. When you do, respond like Jesus to the rockers, to the rocks, and to everyone else because when that happens what our multi-voiced leader says will be true. You will be a light to the world.
PRAYER: Lord, keep me out of the dark. Help me see others and respond not to my needs, but to theirs. Amen.