So it was a bit of a surprise to find myself sitting at our Good Friday service at 3:00, listening to members of my congregation read portions of Matthew's story of the passion. I had not called any of the readers, assigned the readings or helped rehearse the readers. My assignment for the service was to pray, to listen, and occasionally, to sing.
I could do that.
I have been in this congregation for a long time. I know these voices, having heard them for years. Some of them have been reading and assisting in worship for a long time. There were a few who I had never heard read scripture before. I recognized quiet intensity, faith, passion and pathos in their voices as they read. They each, in their own way, inhabited the scripture reading.
I heard one man's voice crack as he relayed Peter's denial. Another woman's voice rose as the crowd roared, "Let him be crucified!"
I sat, and I listened, less encumbered than usual with a sense of responsibility for making worship happen. I sat and I listened and tears collected in the corners of my eyes, partly because it was Good Friday and partly because I could allow myself to be in the story, listening to other voices, voices I knew so well, as they told it. So well.
Your voices, I want to tell them, your voices are more powerful than you even know. You can do it. You can embody the love of God. You already do. You have. For me.