Marches. Negotiations. Zoom Conversations. Webinars. Telephone Conversations. Emails. Texts. Prayers. Sermons. Songs. Debates. Completing Ballots. Standing in long lines to deliver and cast ballots.
These are some of the ways in which we exercise our voices. We do this to convey our feelings, our concerns, our convictions and our vision for ourselves, for our families and our communities.
Throughout my life, I can remember the different times I have found my voice. In my family of origin, in the classroom, in my church community, in a place of employment or working through a challenging moment with another human being. I had a great role model in my mother, an honest and compassionate extrovert in most settings. I learned early on to raise my hand, to be recognized and to speak my truth. And while it hasn’t always been easy, as often as possible, I have exercised this discipline of making my perspective known, of sharing my beliefs, of speaking truth to power. There have been times that I felt extremely vulnerable as a result of my words. That has been uncomfortable on more than a few occasions. On the other hand, I have most always felt more a “part of” than “apart from.”
Over the past several months, we have witnessed many people finding, utilizing and expressing their voices. These expressions have been met with confusion, fear, anger and joy by each of us at different times. We have responded in a myriad of ways—through tears, through “conversations”—written and spoken, through prayers, song, powerful speeches and sermons.
Even as I write this message today, people are studying their voters’ pamphlets, completing their ballots, standing in lines at the polls. Others are still discerning, making their decisions. Some are fretting. Many, if not most, are wondering what the outcome will be in a little more than 23 days.
What I want to convey today is this. Scripture tells us to “lift up our voices to the Lord.” We do this through prayer, through words sung and otherwise spoken, through our actions of social justice. And after a period of discernment, I am wondering if our votes count as prayers. Not that God tallies our prayers and responds accordingly, but that in our lifting up our voices, we are turning them over, placing the outcome in God’s hands.
My prayer for each of you is this—that God’s spirit will fill and surround each and everyone of you as you discern the meaning of Micah 6:8: [God] has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.