First United Methodist Church, Lewistown, PA 17044  ~  717-248-4618   ~

Pastor, could you offer a blessing?

July 30, 2016

    Sticks and stones may break my bones but words continually hurt me...

Yes, I know that isn't the correct wording for the age-old saying.

I have a few physical scars from injuries and often look at them as a remembrance of something occurring that at the time was painful and unwelcome. Details of these events are vague.

I too remember things that have been said to me over my lifetime that produced scars and bad memories. In both cases, I suffered injury. For some reason, I remember the word episodes with more clarity than the physical injury events. Oh to have someone offer grace in even half of those heated exchanges would have been significant!

    The other day I noticed this cement column being destroyed by something as unimposing as dripping water.

I'm certain the first drop of water to hit this cement did little in the way of damaging the surface. The breakdown of something as strong as this cement has been an ongoing process. Words are like water in that a little of either is fine, but when both begin to aggregate then things happen.

        "The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets

        the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and

        creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue.

        It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with

        it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and

        cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same

        spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce

        fresh water." (James 3:6-12, NIV)

Our current cultural malaise is chock full of injured people walking around with wounds not only from physical weapons but from sharply barbed words. How is it that we so easily hurl our words as incendiary bombs filled with anger, disagreement, and dare I say hate toward another person who has been thoughtfully made in the image of God?  We gather together to form a firing squad except we form a circle to fire at said enemy in the middle.

    The imagery here is telling. We as a nation, as communities, as churches, and family units are firing off heated exchanges and doing mighty damage with each shot. We receive the same in kind.  In time, all these units of structure will begin to display the effects of constant strife. In fact, I could argue that our nation, communities, churches, and family units look much like this cement billet being cut apart by dripping water. Divisions are the norm and not the exception.

    Today, let words of blessing be your first response to another person.

** Even if you totally disagree with them

** Even if they have wounded you without cause.

** Even if you don't think they deserve it.

In the years I have been a minister, I have been asked countless times to offer a blessing (at meals, wedding receptions, funeral dinners, etc). I have done so graciously. Lately when asked, I'll often survey the room  and if the situation is right, I'll delegate this task to another. We all need to be prepared to offer blessings rather than curses. Hey, could 'you' offer a blessing? Thanks in advance!

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