It’s amazing what the human voice can do. I was reading about the coloratura – that’s a high soprano – who is currently singing the highest note ever heard in the 137-year history of the New York Metropolitan Opera (an A above high C). That’s a note up in the stratosphere. Thrilling! I’ve heard a recording several times and am mesmerized every time.
I bet each of us can identify a gifted voice that stops us in our tracks, moves us out of the ordinary, a voice that thrills and wakes us up.
And it might well belong to a singer – opera or otherwise – or it might be a recording of powerful orator such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, or it might be that one familiar voice you will always remember - your mother or grandmother, your spouse or your child. My sister saved an old voice message from my dad on her phone so she’ll always have the sound of his voice.
What do I notice in the readings for the Second Sunday of Advent? – I notice what the human voice can do. I counted in these readings at least 20 verbs or nouns connected to speech.
· The prophet Isaiah speaks tender words of comfort, cries out encouragement that good news is just around the corner, because God is with us.
· The psalmist leans in, strains to listen for the peace that God will speak.
· In Mark’s gospel, the Messiah’s prophet appears in the wilderness and proclaims that it’s time, now, to turn around, to get ready for the One who is coming, the One who is always with us - Emmanuel.
The Creator God who spoke us into being with the Divine Breath, speaks through the messenger’s voice today.
It’s like God’s divine breath vibrates human vocal cords, and out…out come words more thrilling than the A above high C or any other note that could strike our ear. The messenger’s voice says, “Prepare for the Spirit of God, the Breath of God, to come and dwell, to breathe in you, to speak through you again, today.”
What message do you lean in to hear, are you straining to hear today? Listen for it:
· some days you need more than anything a word of comfort in the midst of sadness;
· or the breath of peaceful energy to surround and protect you and all creation;
· maybe it’s the good news that God is with you whatever you’re going through;
· or maybe the message is accompanied by flashing strobe lights today…the alert that says it’s time to pay attention to your life; tell the truth about your experience; time to forgive, or challenge, or ask forgiveness.
It’s amazing what the human voice can do. Strong voices are alerting us that the time is now to wake up:
· the Catholic Women Preach initiative that gives you and me the opportunity to share women’s perspective on the Sunday scriptures;
· the Me Too campaign - women are telling the truth about sexual harassment they’ve experienced;
· VOTF Healing Circles that promote restorative justice in the church;
· the Woke movement among black activists in this country;
· the response to James Martin’s book Building a Bridge, about how the Catholic Church and the LGBT community can form relationships of respect. I read about an elderly couple who drove a long way to hear his lecture in Boston. Speaking through his tracheotomy, the husband cried as he told how his gay son was maligned in a church that teaches us, first and foremost, to love one another.
We need reviving; our families need comforting; our church needs to pay attention; our world needs peace.
And that’s what the human voice can do…yours and mine. We can speak a word that affirms a child, challenges a politician, forgives a friend. We can have honest conversations; stop keeping secrets; tell the truth about our lives. We can speak up for someone no one else is listening to.
Crying out or whispering, singing or in conversation…one voice, your voice, can be so powerful. The psalmist sings, “Let us hear what God proclaims.”
Yes…let us hear what God proclaims through you!
Following a thirty-year career in parish ministry, Lisa Frey currently serves hospice patients and their families as a spiritual care coordinator with Hospice of the Western Reserve in the Cleveland, Ohio area. She earned her Master of Arts in Theology at St. Mary’s Seminary in Cleveland and Doctor of Ministry in Homiletics at the Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis. Her doctoral thesis was titled, “Silence in Support of Speaking: How Reflective Practices Can Lead to Transformative Preaching.” A native of Northeast Ohio, Lisa enjoys the Lake Erie shoreline in all seasons.