Let me point out that no one at Delaney Street Church is hysterical. More than a year has passed since the new church was built, and already we’ve broken ground for a new addition. Months ago already Herb Rollins determined that the voices that entered our worship so vividly were actually an interview conducted by Bill Moyers on National Public Radio. (Herb has since left us--one of the very few--for a small Lutheran fellowship in New Berlin.) The point is: no one really believes those voices belong, distinctly, to God. We all agree that what we hear is not “the word of the Lord.”
And Smithson himself is, as I’ve said, very sincere. He is no charlatan. But he says, and we know, that the occurrences have made him more receptive to the motions of the Spirit. He’s more capable of departing from his text, and he’s happy, he says, with the kind of spontaneity these radio voices give him.
So we’ve made this collective and unspoken decision not to fix the sound system, even though we know, technologically speaking, there’s no mystery to the sudden interruptions of our worship. And we’re growing. That in itself is proof of something, isn’t it? More and more and more people from the burbs are coming in and kneeling before the Lord. When we come into our sanctuary today, there’s real excitement, because no one knows exactly what kind of occurrence awaits us.
And yet something itches in me. Believe me, I don’t want to be a doubting Thomas. After all, couldn’t it be that God is using our sound system for divine purposes? No one deliberately wired the system to pick up radio broadcasts (and it’s been public radio--not Top 40!). Besides, even if everyone knows it’s not God’s voice, who’s to say it’s not God who takes control of the radio waves at exactly the moment we worship?
Sometimes I think we’re convinced that today, in the twentieth century since Christ, we cannot be oracles. Who knows but that we’re dead wrong? Who knows but that my own doubt isn’t actually planted in me by none other than the Author of Lies?
Believe me, ever since we’ve put up the new sanctuary, we’ve prospered at Delaney Street. It’s been an extraordinary experience.
But I haven’t slept well for a long, long time.