What to do after you find your voice
What to do after you find your voice
This past Monday — the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — in a recitation entitled “Two Voices,” Arielle Thomas, Emily Garcia and Romell Bryant challenged the crowd that had gathered for the day’s Convocation, saying “We’ve found our voice! Find yours!” The implication that was obvious to all was this: “Once you’ve found it, use it!”
It’s a fitting calling for us who share life on a university campus. The educational endeavor is one of equipping and empowering, with the knowledge, wisdom and skills to do something of value, knowing one’s self, knowing one’s neighbor and the world, knowing how things work and why they don’t. This is a sort of finding of one’s voice. It’s an identification of one’s gifts and skills, one’s place in human society and the created world. It’s an identification of one’s sphere of influence.
The question then is, once we’ve found our voices, what do we do with them?
At Valpo, the answer is ever before us. We use our voice (and all of our other assets) in the service of our neighbor. It’s that straight-forward. Any other use — self-protection, self-promotion, self-aggrandizement, self-absorbed entertainment — is, at best, a distraction; at worst, a betrayal of our neighbor.
This may seem to be an unreasonable demand. After all, where is self-care? Where is one’s fair share?
Even if what I’m writing here is true, how can one possibly make it happen in any consistent way? All of us fall short of this goal, we become fearful and self-centered. We resent the intrusion on our security that our neighbor represents as if we could gather up enough on our own. The economy of mutual service comes under threat when we are tempted to disengage from it.
The Christian gospel describes God’s response to this fearful selfishness. Confronted by a humanity that risks only being able to take for themselves and fear their neighbor, God becomes present as our neighbor in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, one who seems to bring nothing with him. He’s from a nothing town and he has no money. But he brings with himself the one true voice. He is the Word of God, the voice that is the foundation of all that is.
This voice, found among us, uses up itself for the sake of the whole creation. He uses himself up for your sake and calls you, with his voice, beloved. Jesus speaks his words of truth, that you are forgiven and have meaning and purpose in this life, to serve you. It’s just the way he is.
And for that, we use our voices to sing his praises and serve our neighbor so that they might also give glory to God in thankfulness for all that has been given, including a voice to be raised.
Jan. 17, 2018
Rev. James A. Wetzstein serves as one of our university pastors at Valpo and take turns writing weekly reflections.
- Archives of Devotional Writings from our Pastoral Staff
- “Some Lent!”
- (Your vocation here) of people
- A Point of Privilege
- Advent = Hope
- All will be well
- Are we willing to cross the road for one another?
- Can we learn to be happy?
- Come and See
- Did Jesus really suffer?
- Doing without in a life of plenty
- Exiles with Vision
- Fear not!
- Feeling at Home
- Finding Purpose in the Journey
- Finding Words for Times Like These
- Forgiving others – and ourselves
- Getting down on Jesus’ level
- Have yourself a merry little Christmas — somehow
- Holy Week and Taking Out the Trash
- Holy Week: The aid station late in the semester
- Hopes & Dreams vs Life in the Wilderness
- How glad we’ll be if it’s so
- In a time of uncertainty, these things are certain
- In praise of plans B … C … D …
- In Praise of Skeptical Disciples
- In the midst of grief, God will bring life
- Is there such a thing as being too forgiving?
- It’s a Three Day Weekend!
- It’s In the Bag
- It’s What’s Happening
- Killing off our future selves
- Lessons in fire building
- Let us work for real wellness in our communities
- Life Is a Highway
- Living in the Present
- O Lord, you know I hate buttermilk
- Of Fear and Failure
- On Christian Unity: When we’re not one big happy church
- On the Bucket List
- Pray and Let God Worry
- Preparing for the world to be turned rightside up
- Recovering from an Epic Fail
- Reformation calls for examination
- Remembering among the forgetful
- Seeing beauty in brokenness
- Signs of Love
- Starting Small
- Still in the storm
- Taking a Break from the Relentless
- Talking ourselves into it
- Thankfulness leads to joyfulness
- The Funny Business of Forgiveness
- The Greatest of These is Love
- The Magi: Exemplars of Faith and Learning
- The Power of Small Conversations
- The Power of Taking a Sabbath
- The Spiritual Gift of Hindsight
- To be known
- We had hoped
- What is your base reality?
- What to do after you find your voice
- What to do on the day after
- What we know and what we don’t know
- When bad things happen
- When joy and sadness live together
- When you offer up your broken cup
- Wilderness Journeys
- Year-end time management: Keeping the main thing the main thing
- Your Valpo roots will help you grow into your future