As we continue this Great Lent journey, there have been some amazing meditations in the blog world about the Sunday’s of Great Lent as it relates to mission and love: goCoptic’s Prodigal Son post by Fr. Abraham and the Samaritan Woman by author Mireille Mishriky. I would like to add my own humble meditation to these great writers about this past Sunday of the Great Lent. And it is all about MY WORDS.
This past Sunday we celebrated the Feast of Annunciation. We read about a beautiful dialogue between two. Archangel Gabriel shares the good news to our Mother, St. Mary, that God is with her and she will bear the King of the world, who will save us. He greets her in a joyous way:
“Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” Luke 1:28
St. Mary’s words are a humble and beautiful response of the state of her heart:
“Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38
St. Mary shows us this verse exemplified: Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Matthew 12:34
She shares words that come from her heart – humble and ready to accept God’s will in her life at any cost. Later, in her dialogue with Elizabeth, she gives a beautiful meditation of a praise to God using the Word of God. If the heart is filled with God, the words that we speak will naturally come out of our mouths.
Being a mother of two young children, I often threaten them saying, “I’m going to wash your mouths out with soap!” Even priest’s kids need confession too! And surprisingly, they are not perfect! So, they mess up with their language, fighting words, and rudeness.
As I tell my children to wash their mouths out with soap, they are not finished. There needs to be a washing of their hearts as well.
What I have realized is that my children are not the only ones who have to do a washing out of their mouths and hearts. If I am honest with myself, my words need a bit of fixing too!
I am guilty many times over with my words. My words have indirectly or directly injured my husband, my children, church leaders, church members and too many more to count. My heart weighs heavy on those I have destroyed. And it is not limited to those I personally know. Sometimes I use harsh words to those in the customer service industry. I have expectations at my coffee shop, restaurants, banks and stores. And if people don’t meet those expectations, they know it. But not in a gentle way to improve their services, but in a harsh, destroying-type way. How can I reach out to people around me if I behave like that? Is mission only limited to those in my workplace or school and not extended to anyone that I meet? Definitely not!
And when I make a mistake, and I make them often, I do the best I can to say Sorry. That is one word that heals and redeems. Let’s not be prideful enough to say it. To our parents, spouses, children, community.
One thing prayer and fasting in this Lenten Journey can help us with is to examine the words from our mouths. Do I need to wash my mouth out with soap? Do I need to wash my heart?
Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.
Let the mouth fast from disgraceful and abusive words, because, what gain is there when, on the one hand we avoid eating chicken and fish and, on the other, we chew-up and consume our brothers? He who condemns and blasphemes is as if he has eaten brotherly meat, as if he has bitten into the flesh of his fellow man. It is because of this that Paul frightened us, saying: ‘If you chew up and consume one another be careful that you do not annihilate yourselves.’ – St. John Chrysostom
How do my words relate to our mission that Every Church is a Mission Church?
The words that I say can either do one of two things:
- Build someone up, or
- Destroy them
Once my 9-year old thought it would be funny to actually use soap to wash his mouth out. He did it to make his sister laugh, but we ended up laughing at him because if you have ever gotten soap in your mouth, it is really bitter! That is the result of words that destroy – they can leave a bitter taste in our own mouths and cause a bitter scar in the hearts of others.
If I am destroying another person, or chewing them up as in the words of St. John Chrysostom, then I am against the mission of God. If I destroy my husband or my children, I am killing our home. If I destroy the church leaders, servants, or my brother or sister in Church, I am killing our Church.
Most cultures have a tendency to gossip. Some cultures have a tendency to have a hot temper. This is one time where I feel we have to change the culture. Instead let our churches shine with the culture of Christ. His gentleness and sweet words of building up. What is good for necessary edification. But that culture change has to start with ME first.
During this Great Lent, I have been saying this prayer: Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth. Keep watch over the door of my lips. Psalm 141:3
I put this verse from Psalm 141 in front of me wherever I can see it to remind me. Not only will I watch my mouth, but I have to wash my heart as well. So, I pray the following verse for God to help me clean my heart so His words can flow out of my mouth.
The preparations of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord. Proverbs 16:1
With these prayers, I pray that we can watch our words to build others and not kill and destroy them. Dialogues as between Archangel Gabriel and St. Mary should be the norm in our churches. We speak with praise in our tongues. We speak with encouragement and lifting up. We speak with words of angels and saints. It starts with our homes, with our words to our parents, spouses, and children. Then, it continues to our workplaces, schools, places we visit, and climaxes in our churches.
If your church is filled with gossip, backbiting against each other, criticism and hurtful words, pray that this culture in your church changes. Pray it becomes a church of love, building up, and joyful words to and about each other.
Mission Everywhere to Everyone begins with my words. Words of grace to the hearers. Words of edification and building up. We have all felt the sting of harsh words or gossip. We have all been guilty of creating that sting in others. Let there be no more victims of harsh words, gossip, criticism, and backbiting in our homes and in our churches. Let the change start with me. With you.
Mission Assignment: Take a verse from the Bible and make it your prayer during Lent about your words.
Who will you build up with your words? Do you need to apologize to someone for words you have used to destroy others?Tags: Backbiting, Build up, Culture of Christ, Destroy, Feast of Annunciation, Gossip, Great Lent, words