As you read this blog post, you will find that its content has very little to do with its title. But I’ve always thought that phrase was a funny description of someone who has a very good speaking voice but is maybe not willing to wear cocktail dresses to report the news.
We were very short-handed at church Sunday. Bill and I went to 9 o’clock Mass, and there was one priest, one altar server, no deacons, one lector, a cantor, an organist and truly just a handful of people in the congregation. It is my sincere hope that there was slim attendance because of Labor Day weekend, and not because even more people aren’t going to church. It’s already bad enough without more people abandoning ship.
Anyway, our lector was a man who frequently does the readings at this Mass, and I’m always very happy when he is the lector. He has what is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful speaking voices I’ve ever heard. He speaks loudly, but not obnoxiously. He speaks slowly and e-nun-ci-ates every single syllable of every single word, making him easy to understand. He reads as though he is speaking the Word of God, which of course he is. He puts feeling into his readings.
He also always – ALWAYS – wears a coat and tie, with a handkerchief in his pocket, making him look quite dapper. I like that because almost no one dresses up for church any more. I have mixed feelings about that. On the one hand, clearly if you are visiting Jesus in his own house, it would seem as though you should wear your very best. Having said that, I’m in favor of doing anything to make attendance more plentiful – including not worrying about how people are dressed. Because, see above. Low attendance.
So there you have it: the connection to the title. The man sounds as though he worked in radio broadcasting when he was younger. His face, by the way, is perfectly handsome, so the bottom line is no real connection to the title.
But when he stepped to the microphone, here’s the first Words of God that he spoke:
You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped; you were too strong for me, and you triumphed.
Wow. His words echoed through the church. Strong words from the Prophet Jeremiah. I sat up a bit straighter, not just from the power of the words, but from the power of our reader’s voice. He went on….
All the day I am an object of laughter; everyone mocks me. Whenever I speak, I must cry out, violence and outrage is my message; the word of the Lord has brought me derision and reproach all the day.
I say to myself, I will not mention him, I will speak in his name no more. But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones; I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it.
Say, I thought to myself, I’m pretty sure that’s what I do all the time. I’m pretty sure I don’t speak out about what I full-well know is right and what’s wrong, on what is God’s will and on what I know we do that makes God sad. And why not? Because it might make me an object of laughter.
Jesus told his disciples (and us): Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.
What Jesus DIDN’T say was whoever wishes to come after me must take us his cross but only if it doesn’t make you feel uncomfortable.