by Daniel Reese, Staff Writer
Recently, I was asked to do something that I have had an aversion to since beginning Divinity School: preach. Every day I moved closer to my assigned preaching day, I became uncharacteristically nervous. I can’t remember the last time I have dreaded doing something for quite some time. The morning I was to preach, I sent a text to a friend of mine in protest of what was to come. True to form she replies, not with words I wanted to hear, but with words I needed to hear:
“Even if you don’t feel called to pulpit proclamation, wherever you end up will require you to continue to enhance your communication skills, dialogue using the biblical text, and consider the implications of difference perspectives and nuances of the text. So, maybe you’re not a preacher, but life will invite you to proclaim at some point and this work can help hone those skills if you let it.”
Mic dropped! I hated the fact that she was right. Even more so, I hated the fact that the moment at hand felt like God. So, the preaching moment arrives and I’ve done what I can do, I preach, and wait for feedback. My classmates were gracious and constructive but one comment moved me to understanding. “I just wanted to find a quiet place to listen and be with God.” There it was, the revelation I had been listening for throughout the entire exegetical process. Finding your voice is both a private and public experience; it is as much about what God would say through you as it is what God would say to you. As I continued to listen to the feedback of my peers, there were themes they had picked up that were far off my radar. Themes like hospitality, grace, mercy, and love.
One thing is true, you nor I have called ourselves to this work. God, in her wisdom, has chosen this moment to raise us up to be a voice of truth during a pivotal moment in history. The process is certainly uncomfortable and requires sobering vulnerability that allows us to co-operate and co-create with the Spirit in ways we could have never imagined. In some mystical way, our words become God’s vehicle for affirming dignity and honoring humanity!
So, keep going. Keep showing up. Keep agreeing with the dream of God in your heart. God still speaks and desires to do so through you if you allow it.