What voice do you hear?

In the Gospel of John Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice.”

Have you ever thought about what Jesus’ voice sounds like?Voice logo

I asked Don, and he said he imagined a Walter Cronkite like voice.

In your imagination, what kind of voice do you hear?

I thought I would share what I hear:

A Voice of Tenderness.

  • I think of the Jesus’ tenderness towards children, telling the adults to ‘let the little children come to me’  OR of Jesus’ response to the woman with the hemorrhage who touched Jesus’ cloak, which was a Purity Law taboo.  His response to her was one of tenderness (go in peace).

I also hear a Voice of Fierceness

  • When Jesus was in the temple overturning the tables of the money changers – railing against the injustice of turning the temple from a house of prayer into a den of robbers.

I also hear a Voice of Mischievousness.

  • In the parable of the Good Samaritan, the hearers of that day would know that the priest and Levite would not touch a corpse – it would defy purity laws.  They were expecting Joe Jew to come along, but when Sam Samaritan shows up, their assumptions about who is a neighbor get upended.  OR when Jesus told the gathered crowd that “he who is without sin can cast the first stone.”

I also hear a Voice of Invitation.

  • Jesus consistently invites people to live as if the Kingdom of God, or as Matthew calls it, the Kingdom of Heaven, has come.  The Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant of fine pearls, on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.

These are some of the qualities of Jesus’ Voice, all of which summon us to change and grow.

Jesus’ voice, however, is not the only one we hear.

  •  The Voice of Terror roared in Boston at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
  • The Voice of Fear sounded in the halls of congress as they failed to shape legislation concerning gun control – fear of losing reelection bids trumped the wishes of 90% of the American population.
  • The Voice of Might came from North Korea as the leader threatened missile strikes on South Korea, Japan and the US.
  • The Voice of the Media Circus, which hops from one trending event to another, chimes continuously: overwhelming those who get caught in the embrace of wanting more information as well as never staying long enough to examine core issues which need to be redeemed.
  • The Voice of Worry is fed by the voices of Terror and Fear and Media Circus.
  • The Voice of the Lone Ranger rings out, too.  Telling us that the individual is king, and that community cohesion and ability to work together have little value.
  • The Voice of Scarcity speaks in the midst of great abundance.  There is enough for all to have what they need; which, by the way, is not the same as all having the same amount.
  • The Voices of envy, anger and greed, & drugs, alcohol and nicotine aren’t silent, either.

Here is what I know about these voices: As seductive as they are, they ultimately tell us lies about who we are.  They promise power and control – essentially telling us that we can put ourselves in the place of God as gods.  Ultimately, they rob us of life since they are life-denying and not life-giving.

This is what I know about Jesus’ voice: it is the True Voice, and tells us truth about who and whose we are.

Each of the timbres of Jesus’ Voice that I hear – Tenderness, Fierceness, Mischievousness, Invitation to Kingdom Living – is about deep, inner change.  When we listen to them – and this can be hard work to face tenderness when we don’t expect it, and to be hit with a call to justice when previously we hadn’t seen injustice, and to be mischievously led to a place where our map just doesn’t work anymore – when we listen to Jesus’ Voice AND follow it, we come closer to living the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.  Jesus’ voice is life-giving and tells us Truth.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd.  He said, “My sheep hear my voice.  I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they will never perish.  No one will snatch them out of my hand.”

As you go through your week, examine all the voices that surround you.  Which Voice will you listen to?  Which Voice will you follow?





About don

The Rev Don Hill is an Episcopal priest, rail fan and writer. He and his wife the Rev. Dr. Nancy Woodworth-Hill are currently Co-Pastors of St Paul's Episcopal Church, Jeffersonville IN, in the Diocese of Indianapolis. They also work as parish consultants in Appreciative Inquiry, strategic planning and spirituality development for parishes and vestries.
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