Slideshow image

 “The sheep will follow the shepherd because they know his voice.” – John 10:4 

 We’re sure going to miss Pastor Paul! I have led with him for 7½ out of his 10 ½ years at Bethany.  It says so much about our church that Pastor Paul has served in Bethany for so many years. We have been blessed with his ministry.  I’ll say more later about him and his ministry but for now we savor the moments we have with Pastor Paul.  We celebrate him and his opportunity to serve in Minnesota, near family and friends.  He has heard the voice of God calling him to serve in a new place and as follower of Jesus, we want to support him in his new journey, trusting that God continues to work and provide for this community as he leaves. 

 If you ever walked in the office on a random weekday, you might hear Pastor Paul and me talking to each other while sitting at our desks, across the hall from our offices.  As we were doing that yesterday, I thought how well I know his voice and how it sticks out easily to me, even in a crowd.  It’s interesting how we get to know someone’s voice, and how above others our closest friends and family voices can break through the noisiest of rooms. 

 A person’s voice is unique and distinguishable, yet research has shown that most of us are bad at recognizing voices that are unknown. Recognizing voices requires two things to happen simultaneously.  First, we need to distinguish between the voices of different people to tell them apart.  We also need to be able to attach a single identity to all the different sounds like talking, laughing, shouting that can come from the same person. 

 National Geographic reports that pets, even cats, who seem entirely uninterested in well, everything, are able to identify their owners’ voices from that of strangers.  Our tech devices like Siri and Alexa are trained to recognize the voice of the one who programs them.  A startling new long-COVID symptom called “face blindness” has developed in which people are unable to recognize faces, even those of loved ones.  With this challenge, their auditory perception is enhanced and they are able to distinguish between people based on their voices alone. 

 It is interesting to me that what all these things have in common is proximity.  To recognize someone means we need to be close to them.  We must spend time with them, get to know them, discover what distinguishes them from anyone else.  In doing this, we learn their voices and can perceive what they’re saying to us. 

 As we journey to Good Shepherd Sunday, I have three reflective questions for you: 

  • Who are we spending time with?
  • What are we hearing?
  • What ways do we practice listening to the Good Shepherd, Jesus? 

 Hope to see and HEAR from you on Sunday!  

 Peace and love, Pastor Cathy