Friday, December 29, 2017

Gospel text for 31 December 2017

John 1.1-18       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.

 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
 He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

 And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. (John testified to him and cried out, ‘This was he of whom I said, “He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.” ’) From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known. 

Reflection    “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God,” means more than God is with us. It even means more than God is within us. It also means that each and every one of us participates in the creating power of God - the Word. The power of the word is real and the power moves through us. 

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue…” a bit of wisdom from the Book of Proverbs. (Proverbs 18.21) The question before us today is, “How will we use our words to add light to a world full of broken hearts and crushed dreams? How will we use our words to offer comfort, encouragement, support and healing to a world full of disease and violence, fear and marginalization? Will we allow the Word God to energize us to speak into the darkness and call for  dignity, care and respect for all people? Will we allow the Word God to speak through us demanding care of this fragile earth our island home? How will we use our words to continue God’s creating power in our world today?

Have you heard the controversy about words? A recent article in the Washington Post  reported that “Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had been forbidden from using seven words as they prepare their 2018 budget documents. The words are: “vulnerable,” “diversity,” “entitlement,” “fetus,” “transgender,” “science-based” and “evidence-based.”*   Subsequent reports say, not so, but allow that the CDC is “cautious about sensitive language ahead of budget talks…” wanting not to offend conservative sensibilities.**   Who knows if this is true or an alternative truth? The point is, this political football affirms, words matter because words are so powerful we even have wars of words between countries and world leaders.

In his book, Being Peace, the revered spiritual leader and peace worker Thich Nhat Hahn offers these suggestions. “Speaking honestly in any negotiation between individuals or groups is necessary. Speaking the truth in a loving way is also necessary…. We must be ‘lovingly honest’; we must discipline ourselves to speak in a manner that conveys respect, gentleness, and humility.” Our words matter. 

Nearly five hundred years before the birth of Jesus, Confucius, the Chinese philosopher and preeminent proponent of personal and governmental morality wrote, “Without knowing the force of words, it is impossible to know more.” He could just as well have written, “In the beginning was the word.” Each of us participates in the creating power of God - the Word and each of us is responsible for the effects of our words on people and the world. 

As we begin a new calendar year, let us be mindful of the power of our words and consciously and conscientiously choose them to continue God’s creating power to benefit, build up and bless all people and this fragile earth our island home.

Be sure to WATCH the Power of Words clip upper right corner of the post. It is beautiful. 

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