Week of 6 Epiphany: Saturday, Year 2   7 comments

Above:  Tragic Mask

Image Source = Holger.Ellgaard

The Power of Words

FEBRUARY 18, 2012

FEBRUARY 22, 2014

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Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.

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James 3:1-12 (Revised English Bible):

My friends, not many of you should become teachers, for you may be certain that we who teach will ourselves face severer judgement.  All of us go wrong again and again; a man who never says anything wrong is perfect and is capable of controlling every part of his body.  When we put a bit into a horse’s mouth to make it obey our will, we can direct the whole animal.  Or think of a ship:  large though it may be and driven by gales, it can be steered by a very small rudder on whatever course the helmsman chooses.  So with the tongue; it is small, but its pretensions are great.

What a vast amount of timber can be set ablaze by the tiniest spark!  And the tongue is a fire, representing in our body the whole wicked world.  It pollutes our whole being, it sets the whole course of our existence alight, and its flames are fed by hell. Beasts and birds of every kind, creatures that crawl on the ground or swim in the sea, can be subdued and have been subdued by man; but no one can subdue the tongue.  It is an evil thing, restless and charged with deadly venom.  We use it to praise our Lord and Father; then we use it to praise our Lord and Father; then we use it to invoke curses on our fellow-men, though they are made in God’s likeness.  Out of the same mouth come praise and curses.  This should not be so, my friends.  Does a fountain flow with both fresh and brackish water from the same outlet?  My friends, can a fig tree produce olives, or a grape vine produce figs?  No more can salt water produce fresh?

Psalm 12:1-7 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  Help me, LORD, for there is no godly one left;

the faithful have vanished from among us.

2  Everyone speaks falsely with his neighbor;

with a smooth tongue they speak from a double heart.

3  Oh, that the LORD would cut off all smooth tongues,

and close the lips that utter proud boasts!

4  Those who say, “With our tongue we will prevail;

our lips are our own; who is lord over us?”

5  “Because the needy are oppressed

and the poor cry out in misery,

I will rise up,” says the LORD,

“and give them the help they long for.”

6  The words of the LORD are pure words,

like silver refined from ore

and purified seven times in the fire.

7  O LORD, watch over us

and save us from this generation for ever.

Mark 9:2-13 (Revised English Bible):

Six days later Jesus took Peter, James, and John with him and led them up a high mountain by themselves.  And in their presence he was transfigured; his clothes became dazzling white, with a whiteness no bleacher on earth could equal.  They saw Elijah appear and Moses with him, talking with Jesus.  Then Peter spoke:

Rabbi,

he said,

it is good that we are here!  Shall we make three shelters, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah?

For he did not know what to say; they were so terrified.  Then a cloud appeared, casting its shadow over them, and out of the cloud came a voice:

This is my beloved Son; listen to him.

And suddenly, when they looked around, only Jesus was with them; there was no longer anyone else to be seen.

On their way down the mountain, he instructed them not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.  They seized upon those words, and discussed among themselves what this “rising from the dead” could mean.  And they put a question to him:

Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?

He replied,

Elijah does come first to set everything right.  How is it, then, that the scriptures say of the Son of Man that he is to endure great suffering and be treated with contempt?  However, I tell you, Elijah has already come and they have done to him what they wanted, ans the scriptures say of him.

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The Collect:

O  God, the strength of all who put their trust in you: Mercifully accept our prayers; and because in our weakness we can do nothing good without you, give us the help of your grace, that in keeping your commandments we may please you both in will and deed; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Week of 6 Epiphany:  Saturday, Year 1:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/week-of-6-epiphany-saturday-year-1/

Faith in Romans vs. Faith in James:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/04/week-of-proper-23-tuesday-year-1/

Transfiguration:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/11/07/last-sunday-after-the-epiphany-year-a/

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By what we write and say, whether in person or on paper or via telephone or on the Internet, has the power to affect others positively or negatively.  At best, they can ennoble, edify, enrich our lives.  At worst, however, they can devastate.  And there is, of course, a range of possibilities in the middle.

Let us consider the very bad first.  The bullying of many young people has ended in the bullied committing suicide.  Infamously, David Greenglass,who was a spy, committed perjury in the early 1950s and thereby contributed to the conviction and execution of his sister, Ethel Rosenberg, who was not a spy.  And, more recently, in Canada, a court cleared the name of Tammy Marquardt, who had served thirteen years of a life sentence for allegedly murdering her two-year-old son, Kenneth, in 1995.  The damning testimony had been that of a now-disgraced forensic pathologist, who had claimed that Marquardt had strangled or suffocated her son.  The boy actually died of an epileptic seizure.  Not only did Tammy Marquardt lose thirteen years of her life; she also lost two children to adoption.  Here are two links regarding the Marquardt case:  http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/story/2011/06/07/toronto-tammy-marquardt.html and http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/06/tammy-marquardt-justice-stephen-goudges.html.

Now let us turn toward the positive.  Words can also improve a person’s mood, make his or her day.  A well-timed joke can have this effect, for example.  Great literature can uplift our spirits, poetry can exalt our souls, and excellent dramatic performances can appeal to the more elements of human nature.  President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, during the Great Depression, delivered the famous “fireside chats,” which were wonderful exercises in civics.

God, in the beautiful mythology from Genesis, spoke the world into existence.  Our words have the power affect that world and others who live on it.  Our words matter; may we make them count for positive purposes.

KRT

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