Sunday, January 09, 2000

Have You Found Your Voice?

Asbury First United Methodist Church
Connectional Sunday

Text: Genesis 1:1-5, Psalm 29, Acts 19:1-7, Mark 1: 4-11

Opening Gesture

A: I see what you mean.
B: What's that?
A: About Sunday morning, about the sermon.
B: Oh, about the sermon being finished.
A: Yes, that no matter what, at 11:00 A.M. Sunday the sermon is done, whether or not it's done. It's done.
B: You run out of week about now.
A: So we have to stop reading Genesis and Acts. We have to stop thinking and talking. We have to come alive to the moment, this moment and lift our voices.
B: That's what I've been saying…I'm glad to see that you can admit that I'm right about something. I mean I am, well, you know…younger than you…by some years.
A: Ah, but you have the advantage of looking older.
B: You sweet talker, you must have grown up at IBM…can you do this without a flip chart?
A: Why do without one?…We'll just do what we do At 'Big Blue' when we run short of resources. We'll imagine we have one…see it?
B: No.
A: We'll put three marks on the chart, one for Psalm 29, one for Genesis, one for Acts.
B: All right, have it your way…I can imagine. A flip chart with three marks on it. But, remember, my voice is not your voice. We have unique voices, all of us…

A Personal, Active Voice: Psalm 29

(Al adjusts invisible chart, uncaps invisible pen and writes invisible words)

A: That's what I still come back to, right at the start of it all…like in the Psalm in our Call to Worship…the divine voice is ringing out all over the place.In booming personal ways…in nature…
B: Not in nature. Through nature.
A: Oh, I see, yes "over" the waters… "breaks" the cedars… "strips" the forest…It's almost as if the divine voice is remaking nature, from a creation to a newcreation…
B: The divine voice is personal, resounding over and throughout all nature…It is the Lord's voice, the voice of YHWH, the One Holy God.
A: I'm glad to hear that, because, while I am a nature lover. I don't worship nature. I mean, it's like the man said, when he jumped out of his airplane and theparachute didn't open, as he was falling, "This gives me a whole new view of gravity." You probably felt that way when the boat fell and broke your arm.
B: Thanks for that personal reminder. I do get your point—the divine voice rings out through nature, even in spite of nature's dark side, and there is a dark sideto nature…Like that story you tell about the scorpion and the frog…How does that go?
A: A scorpion needs to cross a river. He sees a frog nearby and says, 'Hey, Frog! Let me ride on your back across the river!' The frog, no fool, says 'not achance…we'll get halfway across and you'll sting me to death!' The scorpion says, 'don't be silly! If I did that you'd sink and we'd both drown'. The frog, seeingthe logic in this, finally agrees to take the scorpion over. Halfway across, the scorpion stings the frog. As they are both sinking, the frog cries out to the scorpion:'So what did you do that for?' The scorpion shrugs and replies, 'Ah, it's my nature.'
B: Right. By our nature we are mortal, we are subject to accident, we are prone to harm others. It's our nature. Still, the voice of YHWH rings through thetrees—GLORY! Now that magic IBM ink is beginning to shine out. I see what you wrote, that the divine voice is personal, even when nature is impersonal…doesthat mean our voices can be personal too?
A: Carl Rogers said, back in the sixties, "that which is most personal is most universal."


B: Ah, the sixties, when you were in college and I was in diapers.
A: Well, what goes around comes around.
B: Never trust anyone over 30.
A: Make that 47.
B: Well, I just stopped in to see what condition my condition was in…
A: Like, ban the bomb, make love not war.
B: Cool, groovy.
A: All you need is love.
B: Well, women need men like fish need bicycles.
A: You are a male chauvinist pig!
B: Talk about the pot calling the kettle politically incorrect! 'You talkin to me?'
A: Where have all the flowers gone?
B: It's like Flip Wilson's "Geraldine" said to her boyfriend, Killer, "Honey, what you see is what you get." What do we see next?

A Potent, Creative Voice: Genesis 1

A: See what I have written on the flip chart?
B: No.
A: Look again. It is about Genesis, and the divine voice resounding over the waters, creating, creating, creating…
B: The divine voice is continually creating---as a mother teaches a baby to speak, and the baby lisps in response—as a preacher calls a congregation to lift theirvoices into the new millenium, and the people respond daily with words and acts of love---as every dawn erupts, with orange fire, and another daystarts—Everything starts with a voice… In the beginning God SAID—"Bereshith barach elohim…"
A: (Genesis)
B: We are trying to keep a balance between Bible and Theology, between the Word of God and the Word of Life, between what we hear and what we say.
A: You mean, we have the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other?
B: Thank you Karl Barth.
A: We at IBM try to do our homework.
B: Yes, and it's a matter of careful translation, the Word of God into the idiom of life…first by listening, the dog in front of the Victrola…for faith comes by hearingand hearing by the Word of God…I wonder, can our voices be potent too?
A: That reminds me of a story, a funny one.
B: We'll be the judges of that…how does it go?


A: Joke: The Translating Barber
A man robs a bank near a foreign border. The sheriff chases him over the border into a small town where he finds the bandit lounging outside the localbarbershop. The sheriff, finding that the bandit doesn't speak English, enlists the help of the local barber when he finds out the barber can translate. Severalbarber-facilitated exchanges ensue as the sheriff attempts to find out where the bandit has hidden the money: "Where is the money?"…The barber translates."The sheriff wants to know where the money is." The bandit says: "I don't have the money." The barber translates. "He doesn't have the money." Finally, afterseveral attempts, the frustrated sheriff pulls out his gun and "You tell me where the money is or I'll shoot you." This finally gets the bandit's attention and he tells thebarber: "OK, OK…you tell the sheriff I hid the money under rock by the big tree just outside of town!" Without missing a beat, the soon to be rich barber turns tothe sheriff and says: "This is a very brave man…he says he's not afraid to die!" Translation can be tricky work.

A Powerful, Spiritual Voice: Acts 19

B: Now that I understand the frugal IBM invisible flip chart system, let me write up this third line…Let's see, you wrote first that as in Psalm 29, the divine voiceis personal and second that as in Genesis, the divine voice is potent…see if you can make out this third line.
A: Your handwriting is never good, but it's usually a little easier to follow than this…
B: In Acts, when the people finally are baptized and receive the Holy Spirit, something very powerful, very spiritual happens…
A: You mean, how the Bible says the Holy Spirit came upon them and they SPOKE and PREACHED…
B: That's what I mean…
A: I get it, it's almost as if the whole consequence of baptism and faith and spirit is finding your own voice!
B: The more personal the voice, the more potent the voice, the more powerful the voice—is that what you mean?
A: Yes, and every one of us has a voice, too.
B: A voice with which to share faith.
A: But let's be specific, how can I lift my voice?…

A Responsive Litany of Voice, with a Personal Conclusion

B: In prayer.
A: In acts of kindness.
B: In writing a letter.
A: Writing a letter to the editor.
B: Keeping a journal.
A: Copying an e-mail.
B: Writing a poem.
A: Teaching a class.
B: Reading and listening.
A: Leading devotions.
B: Memorizing Scripture.
A: Volunteering with Laubach Literacy.
B: Writing a song.
A: Singing a song—that gives me an idea.
B: You know, old fellow, each one of us has a unique history, unique face, unique voice—I feel so lucky to have found or been found by a vocal form which Idearly love, the 22 minute sermon—but there are many others—and asking a personal, potent and powerful question—Where do you find your voice, Al?
A: I'm not sure where I find my voice. It may be when I facilitate discussions at church or among my colleagues; it may be when I make tapes or CD's for otherpeople; it's often though through music…playing the piano in our living room late at night or singing with the Asbury Singers on Sunday morning or playing Noah ina church production or playing bass with Daniel on drums here at church…Say Bob, speaking of got me to preach this morning, so how about if I getyou to sing?
B: I thought I was Tom Sawyer and you were Huck Finn—you mean I have to paint the fence too?
A: If you want to practice what you preach…And let me just ask, looking at these three words—personal, potent, powerful—what is it we want folks to takeaway from this sermon?
B: OK, here it is…Today at 2:00, after 90 minutes of Charge Conference fire and heaven, John and Mary Asbury will stop on the way home at Starbucks. Marywill order a double tall vanilla non-fat extra-foamy latte, and ask, "What did you think of the sermon?" John will say, I hope, "I think the point was that each oneof us has our own voice to find, personal and potent and powerful"—lay and clergy, young and old, male and female—lift every voice and sing!

Go Tell it on the Mountain


Frost: Yield who will to their separation, my object in living is to unite my vocation with my avocation, as my two eyes make one in sight. Only where love andneed are one, and the work is play for mortal stakes, is the deed ever really done, for heaven and the future's sakes.
Maslow: basic needs…self-actualization.

Have you heard a voice that caused…made think…invited…prompted…influenced…

We receive information: hearing, seeing, and touching.

Night on Bradley Brook, stars "Signifying".

Speech 101—fear of death and public speaking.

No comments: