“Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.” Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
The idea of voice plays a big part of our scripture today. Listening to a voice is an important factor in our lives. Our language even plays more into who we are and how we affect one another. I love that moment in a friendship when you can call up the other person and just say, “hey, it’s me!” There is a familiarity that is hard to find anywhere else when you can hit voice recognition. It is somehow a milestone in a relationship when you can pick out that person solely by their voice.
And as far as animals are concerned, they are eager to connect with their owners and you know this by how they respond to your voice. I loved the moment when Rudy (my Chihuahua Dachshund pup) first responded to the name chosen for him. How I just call out his name or a variation of his name and he comes running! His big ol ears perk up and all 8 lbs of joy comes bouncing over.
You see, the trick is that I have to be intentional in calling out to him and continuing the relationship…my language is powerful that way. It also can tell him what is needed and how we treat one another. Its not that much different with humans, is it? We have to be intentional about how we call out to each other to continue the relationship or to catch up or to support or to hold up or to welcome in or to betray or deny. Our language is extremely powerful on the level of welcoming or forgetting.
At the CoOp we have an inclusivity statement and it is powerful. It includes welcoming all of any sexuality, any mode of transportation, whatever you wear, how you worship, what your family looks like, etc, etc, etc. If you would lile to read more it’s on our website.
It’s quite extensive and we truly belief in it. But we also need to be intentional when we call out to all sorts of people. Ok, so here is a shameless plug. I really would like to make a video for Easter highlighting our statement. Each person would read a line and I have an editor who will put it all together. Anyone out there have a camera that they would like to loan us to start this project? Let me know asap!
Anyway, we are called, by name to follow and to welcome others. We are called to intentionally connect and use our voices and language to reach out. How will you do that today?