Sound off!

One of the cheers we lead in high school — (yes, I was a cheerleader) — was SOUND OFF.  Straight out of the army, it was SOUND OFF — 1, 2 — SOUND OFF — 3, 4 — SOUND OFF — 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2 clap clap 3, 4.  This was supposed to inspire cheering from the crowd of Jenkintown High School basketball fans who shouted the numbers back to the red and blue clad cheerleaders.  It was one of my earliest practices in coercive influence on public behavior.

But when I consider the OUTLOUD part of Sounding Out Wisdom, I am a little more timid these days.  Yelling back and forth, one side against another, is one way offered to me to use my voice in the public domain.  And it would not be hard to summon up the “spirit” of screaming.  But I resist.  I wait for another kind of message and delivery system.

Pastor Steve Garnaas-Holmes writes prayerful reflections on the lectionary texts each week at his site UNFOLDING LIGHT.  Here is his reflection on the Samuel story from last week.  And on honoring Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.  I am drawn to this invitation to Sound Off/Out Wisdom.  Humbly.

To Hear, to speak

Samuel heard the call
to speak the Word for God.
He had to learn to listen,
and learned that to hear
is to speak. And he spoke.

Dr. Martin heard the call
and spoke the Word.

Don’t listen for God
if you’re not ready to speak,
to speak for truth and justice,
for love and mercy.
With God, to hear is to speak.

This is why we fast and pray.
It’s not polite to listen
with your mouth full.

   —January 12, 2018

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Photo: From Norman Rockwell’s painting “The Problem We All Live With,” depicting Ruby Bridges, the first black child to attend an all white elementary school in the South.


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