Say. The. Words. (A Plea for Tired Worship Leaders)

Sometimes worship leadership is going through the motions, and that’s okay. Especially during Holy Week or Christmas or that week with two funerals, standing before the people of God with words of salvation and hope and liberation won’t always connect emotionally for the worship leader. That’s not the worship leader’s fault, and it doesn’t even diminish the worship. Thanks be to God that the efficacy of the Word and sacraments does not depend upon the focus of ministers.

Say the words.

“The body of Christ, broken for you.”

They’re still true, even without an earnest, searching look deep into the eyes of the person whom you’ve just addressed by name and served the bread.

Say the words.

“Lord, have mercy.”

God’s mercy is not taking your emotional temperature. God is merciful, even if you’re not sure you mean it.

Say the words.

“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.”

Though you did not know the deceased, you are dust too, no matter how automatic the words feel as you say them.

Say the words.

“Christ is risen. Christ is risen indeed!”

Those words are no less true for their issuing from your tired mouth than they were that first Easter morning when they were uttered by disciples who were more freaked out than celebratory.

The good news is that the Good News is true and effective quite apart from our ability to vivify it with our expression and tone of voice. Of course, much of the time we do exactly that, and for those times we are grateful. But we can’t kick ourselves when it feels off. We’re not actors trying to get in touch with the emotional center of a dramatic character. We’re heralds of a message whose truth does not need us to be true.

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