The Faithful Use of Words

An Undivided Heart by Gillian Ross

Whether true or false, what is said about men often has as much influence on their lives, and particularly on their destinies, as what they do. – Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

In 2 Corinthians 3:3, Paul reminds the faithful that they are “a letter of Christ, prepared by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”

So if a Christ follower is a letter of Christ- what would that look like? A text, a tweet, a Facebook post, an e-mail, snail mail?

What would a letter of Christ sound like? More to the point, what do I sound like?

  • An advertisement? Am I all about selling myself? So desperate for love am I constantly vying for attention – look at me, like me, choose me? Or do I rest in who I am and point beyond myself to Someone Greater?
  • An overdue bill? I did this for you so you owe me this in return. Are my words the language of contract and obligation  or unconditional, sacrificial love?
  • Spam? Is my speech full tricky words, half truths, or bold face lies? Am I trying to convince someone I am something I am not for personal gain? Or am I honest and consistent, no matter the conversation?
  • Hate mail? Do I use words as weapons- cutting people down, dissecting their every flaw, judging them and locking them away in a hole of my own making? Do I have a hair trigger temper loaded with a buckshot of bad attitude? Or do I measure my words, think before I speak, speak the truth in love?
  • A Hallmark card? Am I only repeating what other people say? Are my sentiments nice, even sweet, but borrowed from someone else? Or have I made my faith my own?

I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world.  ~Mother Teresa

I agree with Mother Teresa, that when we welcome the Spirit of God into the depth of our being, we become a letter of Christ. Not just any letter, but a love letter written to the world. Handwritten, personal, simple, sincere, hope-filled. Written not with pen and ink on paper. Written not on stone or bronze. But a timeless message written on hearts. First our hearts. Then the fullness of our hearts rises up in the words we send forth to others. In hearing, Christ’s message is written on their hearts as well.

Words are a powerful gift of God. They have the power to create and the power to destroy. Lord, help me to use this gift faithfully and wisely. – Lisa <><

Prayer for the Faithful Use of Words
If possible, project each scripture for 10-20 seconds. The congregation is encouraged to sit with the scriptures or to repeat them quietly as they appear on the screen. The scriptures may be presented in silence or with instrumental music in the background. The congregation responds in unison following each scripture. The first prayer response is adapted from a portion of Psalm 141. The second prayer response is Psalm 51:15 (NIV).

Proverbs 18:21a (NRSV)
Death and life are in the power of the tongue…

Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD
Stand watch over the door of my lips.
Keep my heart from desiring what is evil,
far away from joining those who do evil.
Stop me from eating their delicacies.

James 1:26 (NRSV, adapted)
If any think they are religious and do not bridle their tongues,
they deceive their hearts and their religion is worthless.

Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD
Stand watch over the door of my lips.
Keep my heart from desiring what is evil,
far away from joining those who do evil.
Stop me from eating their delicacies.

Ephesians 4:29 NRSV
Let no evil talk come out of your mouths,
but only what is useful for building up, as there is need,
so that your words may give grace to those who hear.

O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.

Moment of silence.
Consider following this prayer by celebrating the Sacrament Holy Communion.

compilation © 2011 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

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