"Hello down there!"
I was walking into the church early Sunday morning with hardly a car in the parking lot. Immediately upon stepping in the door as if perfectly scripted for a movie, I heard this disembodied, holy sounding voice coming down from Heaven, saying "Hello down there!" We claim to be eager to hear the voice of God, and we look to our time at church as a place we just might be blessed to hear that voice. But just like so many of our familiar biblical characters when they first encounter the Voice of God, I was still taken aback.
Continuing with this deeply spiritual inquiry, the ethereal voice sounded again, "Do you have the key?" One of the regular blogs I follow is called The Rhetorical Jesus, headed with subject lines always in the form of rhetorical questions reading much like this. I must confess, though, that I was a bit disappointed to find out it wasn’t a voice from Heaven, but just from the third floor from another early riser, trying to get into a locked room to set up for coffee (which some might say is "the key" anyway!). The deep theology of her question remained in my head for at least a few more minutes, until I heard another voice from another very solid body with the equally deep answer:
After very earthy, ordinary greetings, on that icy morning, the sleepy eyes belonging to this other voice said "I was here about midnight last night spreading salt, so it could have time to work for folks arriving to church this morning..." Of course you have to realize this voice did NOT come from a paid staff person from the church, but from a volunteer—or what we have more recently been calling a "servant" of church ministries-- reflecting the heart of "servant leadership" that Jesus displayed.
Here at midnight—not because he was paid to be here, but because of the Key the first voice was asking about—the Key of commitment to holy service. "Do you have the Key?" the voice from Heaven continues to ask. Of course we HAVE the Key—the Key of commitment—but are we willing to use it? "The Faith We Sing" as our hymnal supplement is entitled, as well as the faith we preach, the faith we teach, that we share, that we live—is a faith of committed action, of servant leadership, reflected in that second voice, "I was here about midnight last night..." This faith is not just a taste for a particular kind of music or spiritual experience, not just a set of ethical guidelines, but a passion for a particular kind of living, growing out of our passionate relationship with Jesus.
This also very human question is often asked in the times we feel we are drowning in life's challenges, as if the Key is some great mystery or almost unattainable existential elixir. Yet it is as simple and accessible as the powerful stories of faith, commitment and spiritual relationship so eloquently expressed by our youth in their Youth Sunday messages, timed to perfectly coincide with that question I heard from Heaven just an hour earlier. While the Key is rooted in the relationship with Jesus, it is expressed day in and day out through this month's memory verse, commonly known as The Golden Rule (or is that The Golden Key?)—from the voice of Jesus at Luke 6:31 "Do to others as you would like them to do to you."
As the second voice depicted, the key is expressed in how we actually use our time, how we actually shape how our families, how our kids, use their time. "Hello down there—you DO have the key—won't you use it?" I think I'm hearing the Voice continue to ask.
Just asking-- Rev. Jim
James R. Lewis, PhD--
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