Bailey Edwards Nelson: Giving Voice to God

While discussing Jesus and his “mommy,” Aidan paused and asked me: “Did she have a voice like yours? Did she sound like you?”

I sat stunned. All I could say was, “I don’t know.”

I have never considered what’s Mary’s voice might have sounded like. I certainly never thought that her voice could have sounded like my own. Was she an alto like me, with a lower range than most women? Did she project and speak with a dramatic bend like me? Did she have the slightest hint of a southern twang like me? I suspect not. Then again, what if?

At four years old, my son has theological insight many adults long for. Then again, most children do. Their questions catch us off guard, leaving even us “revs” wondering if we can live up to the challenge of providing an answer.

His face was soft and his voice full of curiosity–even hope–when he dared to wonder if his mommy could have been like Jesus’ mommy. He was searching for a way to understand her, to identify and connect with her. If her voice was like mine then suddenly the biblical narrative comes alive. He can hear her singing soft lullabies when Jesus could not sleep or shout with pride when he learned something new. Perhaps he can even hear the strength in her voice when she corrected Jesus when he stepped out of line.

If she had a voice like mine, then he knows her. And if he knows her, he knows her son, because he knows himself.

No, my son is not Jesus, and on many a day, not even Jesus-like. But suddenly he knows a Jesus who understands him, a Jesus who listened for the sound of his mother. And that leads to more questions. Questions about this Jesus: who he was and how he lived–and the God that sent him. Where do the answers to these questions lie? For my son, they lie with me.

Mary may not have been a loud-and-low Southern gal, but she did have a voice. The voice of a mother, a woman, heralding the life and love of a son the world would struggle to understand. She sang, cheered, cried, laughed, screamed and whispered in ways that only the one who birthed God into the world could.

My son is looking for me to do the same. He is looking for me to sing, cheer, cry, laugh, scream and whisper God to life for him. He hears my voice and waits for God to be birthed into his world. Some days there are more screams than whispers, more tears than laughs, but still he listens.

Did Jesus’s mommy have a voice like mine? Yes, she did. A voice like mine and a voice like yours. Thank God for sons (and daughters) whose questions lead us back to our original and most sacred calling: giving voice to a faith, a hope, a love–a God–that waits to be heard.


Rev. Bailey Edwards Nelson has served on the pastoral staff of congregations throughout the southeast, most recently as Senior Pastor of a congregation in North Carolina. She is a graduate of McAfee School of Theology and Furman University. Bailey holds a deep love for preaching and the creative arts.

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