Pastor’s Corner (6/25/2020)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. John 1:1-5
One of the many joys of being a parish pastor is the opportunity to participate in continuing education. This week and next week, I’m registered in an online writer’s workshop. The above passage came to mind as I listened to the first presentation in the “Writing for Your Life Online Mega-Conference.” Author and Episcopal priest Barbara Brown Taylor gave the opening presentation and she talked about “The Sacrament of the Right Word.” As I listened to her presentation, I was struck by the power of the word. For us as people of faith, we are keenly aware of the power of the word when we gather for worship. The pulpit (although I don’t use it much) and the lectern are both centrally placed in the chancel as a focal point for our attention. The Reformers believed that reading the Word of God and its proclamation are central to the act of worship. Taylor reminded us of the importance of words and invited us to ponder how our words connect to the Word of God.
In these challenging days of Pandemic and Protest, we are invited to consider the importance of words. Words swirl around us every day, often every hour, and they are not always the words we want to hear. Words like “face masks” and “physical distancing” have become part of our parlance and are sometimes politicized. As we face more protests, we are often aware of words flying all around us, often yelled at a fever pitch. I think part of the challenge before us is discerning which words to listen to and what words to speak. The plethora of words sometimes tempts us to turn them all off.
There are undoubtedly times for that, however, it is also important to truly listen to many of those words. Truly listening can be uncomfortable and even frightening, but that is the best way to acknowledge and value the speaker. Sometimes we say to children “use your words” when we are struggling to understand their experience. Sadly, words can and have been used as weapons. However, I think Jesus, as the Word of God, invites us to find healing in our words. Sadly, healing can be a painful process; treatment sometimes involves pain. As we listen to one another, even when the words are painful, we value the speaker and their experiences. Words help us enter into the experience of others, even those very different from ourselves.
May we have the courage to genuinely hear the words of one another, recognizing that God, through God’s Word the Christ, empowers us to do so.
With love and joy,