Friday afternoon I started to lose my voice. I’d been sick for about a day, but now I was having trouble even talking. By Saturday, my voice was all but gone. As much as I tried to force out words, they just wouldn’t come.
When a preacher loses their voice on a Saturday, the first response is panic: “How will I preach?” “What if I can’t?” “Who will?” I realized pretty quickly that, as much as I wanted to, I couldn’t lead Sunday worship. Or, rather, others realized that for me. My wife was the first to tell me I couldn’t, followed by the chair of my deacons. They were also the first to offer to fill in the gaps, and make sure the service still went off without a hitch.
So, this morning, while my congregation was gathering across the street, I slept in. It was the first time I had ever missed preaching for illness. And, it felt really weird. I wanted to go. I wanted to preach the sermon I’d be working over in my head all week. I wanted to do what pastors do.
But sometimes what we think we are supposed to do, and what we can actually do, are not aligned. And yet, somehow, everything works out. And we realize that while we may be valuable, we are not indispensable. Because, in the end, God provides.
The service went on, the sermon was preached, the people worshiped, and the preacher stayed in bed and got better. And somewhere along the way, the Lenten truth came through: we may think we are capable of great things, but in the end we are able to do even greater things in community. Christ knew that. It’s why he surrounded himself with disciples. And, it’s why he asked his disciples to stay committed to one another later on.
When one needs community, others are always there. Sometimes, even when we don’t want to need them. Learning to accept the strength of community is sometimes hard for those of us who are self-sufficient types. But sometimes that community ends up holding us up (or just sending us back to bed) when we need it the most.