Posts Tagged ‘words

12
Jan
21

That Small Rudder…

“The words of a president matter.”

These words were spoken earlier this week by the incoming U.S. president and were pointedly directed at the outgoing guy. They were meant to be a stinging rebuke of a set of words Mr. Outgoing spoke earlier from a podium over a microphone that then ignited a violent uprising in our nation’s capital.

Those weighty words from Mr. Incoming also seemed to contain a promise; “Once I am safely ensconced in the oval-shaped office, I promise to remember to use my words with care, intention, and purpose… unlike this other guy.”

I am sure you all know the events I am referring to, right?

But were you also tempted – as I was – to wipe the imaginary sweat from your brow and say, “WHEW! It’s a good thing that principle only applies to people who hold the office of President of the United States! Thank goodness I don’t have to worry about the effect of MY words!”

I hope you didn’t fall for that trap. Because although the scope of your power might not extend any further than your kitchen table, YOUR words (and mine) matter too. 

They have the power to heal… or harm… or encourage… or dispirit… or enlighten… or obscure… or bring joy… or bring sorrow. 

You – yes, YOU – exert influence when you speak. Believe it or not. As the writer of the book of James tells us, “Or look at ships; though they are so large that it takes strong winds to drive them, yet they are guided by a very small rudder… So also, the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits.” (James 3:4-5, NRSV). 

People who hear you speak believe your words are born of conviction… that is to say, they trust that you only say things because you believe them. 

If you tell me I am an idiot, you clearly believe that to be true. Or if you tell me I am kind, generous, and devilishly handsome, you also say that nonsense because you believe it. 

And if you believe something, well… there must be a good reason you believe it. 

After all we have been through in 2020 and these early days of 2021, we would all do well to remember that our words DO indeed matter to those who hear us…

… and to use them accordingly.

Abundant blessings;

02
Nov
18

“Just Kidding!”

Political opponentsI had gone out to play with my friends after dad finished giving me my every-two-week haircut. His barber chair was right there in the living room of our home.

With five kids at home – four of which were boys – my folks were always looking for ways to cut costs. Home haircuts were a huge help to the budget.

Dad was efficient with his barbering, but not always deft. My homemade haircut looked… like a homemade haircut. And as I met my friends in the field that day, my best friend Robbie pointed at my hair, laughed, and said, “Hey, Rusty… nice haircut! Did your dad put a bowl on your head before he cut your hair?”

And then he laughed, playfully punched me in the arm and said, “Just kidding!”

Of course, he was. But the initial sting of the joke stayed with me… because I knew he was actually not kidding at all.

In less than a week the mid-term elections will be over. We will all finally know the results of these watershed votes. Half of the candidates will win and pump their fists victoriously. Half will lose and go home to lick their wounds and ponder their next moves.

But the REAL blessing of next Wednesday will be the blessed disappearance of all of the political TV ads.

Thank you, eight pound, 10-ounce baby Jesus!

After the election dust clears the men and women who have gone on the public airwaves for the last three months, hurling the most vicious, degrading, debased, and insulting remarks at one another will step back, grin sheepishly at each other, and say, “JUST KIDDING!”

They will each call for a time of reconciliation and “coming together” in the name of the country/state/district/county/school board.

The rest of us will wake to discover that the predicted horror and disaster of electing a (REPUBLICAN/DEMOCRAT) to high office has actually not quite materialized.

We will see that electing a Republican did NOT actually lead us straight to a fascist state run by self-enriching oligarchs. We will also see that electing a Democrat did not – in fact – kill the economy, roll out the Welcome mat to bands of bloodthirsty terrorists, or usher in the new age of socialism.

Yes, we will all pause and realize that the vicious attacks unleashed in the campaigns were not REALLY serious charges. They were all “just kidding.”

But I can’t help but wonder; what is the price we pay for listening to this non-stop venom, in terms of the health of our nation’s soul?

All throughout the Bible, we see that it has some strong words to say about… strong words. Jesus, for example, said, “I tell you, on the Day of Judgment you will have to give an account for every careless word you utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words, you will be condemned.”(Matthew 12:36-38, NRSV)

James, Jesus’ brother, warned us about the dangers of the human tongue: “… but no one can tame the tongue—a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it, we bless the Lord and Father, and with it, we curse those who are made in the likeness of God.”(James 3:8-9, NRSV).

Lord, as I listen to the election returns, help me be humble in victory and gracious in defeat. And help me – and ALL of us – heal from the wounds inflicted over the past few months.

Remind me that red or blue, left or right, you call me to love as you love.




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