Finding our outside voice

When people are together for a long time they start to speak to each other with an inside voice. They use short forms and references that they don’t have to explain. For example in our church there might be an announcement about “MCC” and there won’t be an explanation that it is short for “Mennonite Central Committee”. We may talk about the story of the prodigal son, and not explain what we mean, assuming that everyone knows that story.

I remember participating in an inter-religious dialogue. A Jew, a Muslim and a Christian were all asked to share about the story of Joseph in Egypt and what it means to them. All three religions value this story as part of their scripture. I was asked to speak from the Christian perspective, and I shared about the importance of finding “good news” in this story, so that I could preach about it. I must have used the phrase “good news” fairly often, because after that talk a Jewish man came up to me. “You used that phrase ‘good news’ so often…what do you mean by good news?”

Meeting people who are different, who do not share our beliefs and vocabulary is always enriching and usually very challenging. These are people who walk in the doors of our church, and they are people we meet at work or at school. We have to give up our inside voice for a time, and get down to brass tacks! We have to speak in ways that everyone can understand. Sometimes when we do this, we realize that we have been using words without really being able to explain them. Sometimes when we do this, we realize in a new way how important the good news is.

This week’s prayer: Help me to be ready to witness to my faith with an outside voice; to share the good news I have received.

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