“I heard the voice of Jesus say…”
I can still hear this old hymn ringing out as our very own Bec Lindsay sang the refrain throughout one of her early sermons as Hope Uniting. It marked out some clear territory; Bec’s own strength and boldness; a connection to Iona and a willingness to play within and around the great traditions of faith.
I can also hear the voice of Peter Fitzsimmons and other cheeky skeptics saying if you hear the voice of Jesus, it’s a sign that you’re a bit delusional. Makes for cheap laughs in the Saturday morning columns but…
The reality for me is that I do hear the voice of Jesus calling out. To all of us. Not in audible words, nor in flashing visions. But in the hopes, fears and needs of all the people around us. And in the same strange concoction of fears, hopes and needs within me.
I heard Jesus recently in a conversation with an older friend; who was wondering if he still held faith after years of caring for his profoundly disabled son. And as he mused, he told of long conversations and tears and laughter with a close group of friends; a community of the heart, as Bec would style it. And I heard again our cry to be known and loved, to have our fears heard and struggles acknowledged. The cry to walk together; to become more than acquaintances but to bind up each other’s wounds and treasure our brokenness and hope all at once.
I heard Jesus the voice of Jesus in loving defiance through our friends in the Love Makes A Way community. In the simple gesture of one hand held up, palm facing forward, saying I will not stand for this injustice any longer. And alongside that, the other hand held out in invitation to say “let me hear you, let us speak together” – because no matter how much we disagree I will remain open to your humanity. And I felt proud and ashamed and hopeful all at once. And I heard the call to be church in a renewed manner – throwing off our reticence and uncertainty and instead claiming our identity in and through Christ. We are called to be the people of God!
And I heard the voice of Jesus in the sweet sounds of “The Brilliance” proclaiming that “the sun will rise, won’t you dry all your tears, lay your burdens down” as I held my baby daughter Lani. And she gurgled and smiled at me as I wondered what life held in store for her. She is so fragile and has just discovered how to smile – which she now does all the time. And I heard the voice of Jesus in this moment of contentment, love and binding. Here in this tiny bundle was a key to who I am called to be.
There are so many voices decrying the failure of the church; the uncertainty of faith in our times. Times have indeed changed, and will continue to do so.
But everywhere I turn, each day I rise, I am called anew to listen to the world. For the voice of Jesus is singing and crying and laughing all around us. And in each time I still my distracted brain long enough to listen I hear the voice again saying this one refrain:
“Just as I have loved you, you should also love one another.”