Skip to content

What Kind of Word Do You Share?

July 15, 2017


A couple of weeks ago I was heading to the mailbox in our complex when I felt like someone was watching me. I looked around and didn’t see anyone or anything when I reached the mailbox. However, on the way back, I saw this fellow laying down in between two condos across the road from our condo. He was contentedly munching on bushes and grass while keeping an eye on me.

Many of the pictures that I take of our four-legged neighbors almost seem to capture the Elk or the Mule Deer talking to me. I know, they are simply chewing their cud… or are they? As I look into their eyes it feels like I am making a connection with them and I can simply (and carefully) be in their presence. Two times of the year when you have to be careful about doing that are during calving season when the Mamas are very protective of their young and during rut when the Bull Elks are less than patient with not only their herd but with any two or four-legged intruders! However, the rest of the time I have often found myself simply being still in the presence of these majestic creatures. They teach me to speak quietly (or speak less) and listen more intently. How often we need to learn that lesson over and over and over again.

As I have pondered the readings for the Sixth Sunday after Pentecost I have thought long and hard about the current situation in our nation and world. Words… words can heal… words can kill… words can build up… words can tear down… These words from Isaiah resonated with me as I reflected on the passages in the midst of this busy week.

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:10-11)

How does God’s word go out? The parallel which Isaiah offers reveals how God’s word goes out. Rain and snow water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater. God’s word is meant to bring forth life! Yet, far too often we pervert what we call “god’s word” (lower case on both is very intentional) and use it to destroy.

Just as floods can cause tremendous destruction, damage, and loss of life; so too can misguided and misdirected words damage and destroy when they come out of our mouths. It is even worse when we use Scripture to bash others into submission. Far too often I have seen and experienced situations where so-called christians (again, lower case is intentional) use the Bible to figuratively or literally slay others whom they disagree with.

What would it be like if our words (and our actions) did what Isaiah described in the remainder of the reading? “For you shall go out in joy, and be led back in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall burst into song, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall be to the LORD for a memorial, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.” (Isaiah 55:12-13)

Do you remember the lesson Thumper learned from his father and mother in the movie Bambi? After picking on the young prince for his unsteady legs and inability to walk straight, Thumper’s mom asked him a question. “Thumper, what did your Father say?” The reply from our chastened little fellow was this: “If you can’t say nothing nice, don’t say nothing at all.”

Can you imagine what it would be like in this nation and world if we took the advice of Thumper’s father more often? As I often remind folks when I am preaching, if there is one finger pointing out at the congregation, there are three fingers pointing back at the Padre!

Well, Jesus takes this lesson from Isaiah and puts it into a teaching moment with the parable of the sower and the seeds. This parable is very familiar to many and can easily be brushed aside. Yet, especially in today’s world I think we need to re-examine it.

Jesus talks about seeds falling on the path where they had no hope of taking root but were instead taken up by the birds and eaten. Next he talks about seeds falling on rocky soil where they sprang up quickly and then died because they were not nourished. Then we hear about the seeds which fell among the thorns where they were quickly overwhelmed and choked out. What do these seeds all have in common? How often do our words get thrown out without thinking? What good are those words in the end? They can hurt, harm, and destroy!

Finally, we hear about the seeds which fell on good soil flourished. They brought forth an incredible crop! Think about the times when what you have said or done has made a difference in a positive way. Your words and actions can and do encourage, sustain, support, and give life!

I have been really struggling in this current political and national/international climate with how to respond. I readily admit that my default response is not a good one. I am more liable to reply with anger, hatred, or judgment than with love or compassion or peace.

We are called, dear reader, to be the difference in this world by our actions and through our words. Lord, make me an instrument of your peace… thus begins the Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi. I am currently reading a book about the meeting between Francis and the Sultan during the Fifth Crusade. Where the church leaders and the military leaders sought to destroy the enemy (who, by the way, was willing to negotiate a peace but the high and mighty bloodthirsty churchmen refused), Francis wanted to figure out a way to bring peace through this encounter with the Sultan (here is a review of the book: The Saint and the Sultan by Paul Moses: A Review)

What sort of word do you want to share, dear reader? In a world filled with hatred, fear, ignorance, and every phobia under the sun; what do you want to be? I can tell you first hand that it isn’t easy to go against the baser nature. But it is crucial if we are to sow good seeds… seeds of love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self-control in a world gone mad. Otherwise, in the words of Dr King, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

So, how shall we sow the seeds? How shall we speak? In the words of Saint Francis of Assisi:

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is error, the truth;
Where there is doubt, the faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled, as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: