Ever since my ordination in July, I get asked all the time, “Do you feel any different now?”
It’s the same question we like to ask those who have recently been married, or when someone graduates with a degree. It’s distinct in situations like these because for a lot of people, the answer is “no.” Usually there’s just a piece of paper that declared that someone is now married, or graduated, or ordained…
Now, ask a new parent that question and they might rightly throw a blunt object at your head simply because asking that question to a new parent is not the best idea. Clearly, their life has changed in unimaginable ways that this non-parent cannot even begin to fathom.
The reality is that when I think about it, things are different.
I’m in the midst of reading Anna Carter’s Florence’s latest book, Rehearsing Scripture: Discovering God’s Word in Community. In chapter 7, she tackles Mark 5: Jesus and the hemorrhaging woman, the possessed man, and the daughter of the synagogue leader. Florence asks the question, “Who gets the power to speak?” The people on the margins, not the temple leader. The man who was possessed and the woman who seems insignificant in the crowd, and a formerly dead 12 year-old girl. But not the temple leader. The person with the power to influence others because his words are already seen as more powerful is forbidden from speaking about anything that happened. But not his child.
It sounds about right for Jesus, but for us it might not feel right. Because there are voices that we have deemed to be more powerful than others, just like the people who were part of the Mark story.
When she gave me my charge, Rev. Julie Emery told me that my words matter. People will be listening and in this new role as a minister of word and sacrament, my words will carry a weight they didn’t before. And while I don’t feel as though they actually do weigh heavier, now, because of a title, people are listening more than they were before.
If this is true for pastors, then we really need to choose our words more carefully so that our words are providing light to the voices that people aren’t listening to. What we should be doing is encouraging the voices of those who were formerly possessed and the voices of children and teenagers and the voices of women and the voices of those seeking healing and the voices of those suffering. Those are the people who should be telling the story. Our words should lift theirs up. Our words should lend credence and credit to those who don’t typically have it. Because people aren’t listening to those on the margins and it’s our job to make sure they are heard.