Against Going Solo
Acts 10: 34-43 (NRSVA)
34 Then Peter began to speak to them: ‘I truly understand that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36 You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all. 37 That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39 We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; 40 but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, 41 not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.’
That message spread…and it’s still spreading… Moment by moment, story by story, song by song, the Gospel spreads. We are part of one another, speaking one another into the mystery. Voice by voice.
I really struggle whenever I lose my voice through a sore throat or overwork. My wife and I make a vivid counterpoint in this respect. When she loses her voice she manages to communicate really well. She’s expressive, animated, has a background in theatre, and once studied British Sign Language. She’s also an excellent drawer. And a stoic, cooperative person.
I, sadly, am not nearly so stoic or cooperative a person. I also rely heavily on thinking aloud. I am a writer but I am also a messy hand-writer who writes in bizarrely crowded and uneven letters. When Lily loses her voice we struggle on together. When I lose my voice — my furrowed brows, erratic gestures, scrawled notes and frustration lead to hilarity, confusion, annoyance and frustration.
Sometimes, if losing my voice lasts a couple of days, I start to glean new insights, new concise or contemplative ways of being. And, at any rate and sometimes uncomfortably, become more self-aware. Overwhelmingly I’m struck by how grateful I am to have a voice at all. No voice is a solo, for all voices are gifts given and received. To speak is to join a lifelong ensemble.
Because our voices are literally a gift from those who raised us, and those who raised them, and from the one who made us all. We speak one another into speaking! Being reminded that our voices are a gift is a reminder of the innate generosity at the heart of them. We communicate because we were communicated to. We love because we were first loved. Rediscovering generosity and grace (as I do about day two or three of having a sore throat…) can encourage us to use our voices to carry the life-changing messages we have ourselves received — like those first disciples — to others.
Let our lives respond
to the love and care
you have shown us
and have given us
that we might
voice by voice
join the story.