Later, words called out to a man named Abram. The words built a people where there was none. This man was called into a new existence, a brand new life and calling. God’s call to go and the promises attached beget a family, an ancestry as numerous as the stars in the skies.
Speech insisted in the wilderness. The Lord heard the cries and the anguished words of a captive people. Right there in the desert I Am speaks to a guy named Moses. Go to pharaoh and tell him “Let my people go.” After some convincing Moses stands in Egypt and demands a hearing. The speaker was not the articulate, but God gave him offered him speech. Words built a way out of bondage. The Lord delivered and through the seas this people, formed from words, walk toward a promise — a sharing of words between the living God and a people who have his heart.
Life ushered in one word after another. Each word shaped the life of the chosen people. The promises and the law welcomed by the people and passed on with each conversation. Everything held together by the stories they would now stop telling. The stories of how God delivered and provided and created and saved. Word by word—from the first to the last—a people was formed.
The Psalms are a beautiful peak into the breadth and variety of words. Praise and lament, complaint and thanksgiving. God’s people heard and responded. Listened and spoke.
Words were worship. Language gave opened the covenant, the communion between God and God’s people. Each breathy cry gave life and possibility. The rhythmic songs and supplications ushered in the creative force and transformation.
At moments particular speech was necessary. The stuff that comes with a prophetic tone. Both the harsh and the hopeful echoed across a people, opening new possibilities and new ways of being.
Much later, Mary noticed what seemed to be a gardener. Her vision dulled by the tears in her eyes. The tomb was open, the situation curious, but then the gardener spoke. “Woman why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for,” he said.
Then the voice registered. Mary responded, “Rabboni.”
Mary ran to the risen Lord, and he leaned down and told her, “Do not hold onto me but go to your brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to the father and your father, to my God and your God.”
Once again we are left with words and stories. I love that Mary, this committed women is the one who gets to tell the story. She hurries back and the words begin to create. They usher in new creation. Word by word, God’s salvation, the kingdom come, breaks into our world. Paul says, “You are a new creation.”
So we stand in this great tradition of words and power. We are witnesses of the strength a word holds as the syllables rattle out. One by one our language creates. Words Matter.
Christian speech is sacred. The language draws the world into the salvation of God. So let’s focus on the stories we tell. I hope the stories we tell and the words we use welcome the world into the hope of God with us. The living God who just will not let us go. This God is not angry or disappointed; instead this God is full of steadfast loving kindness.