An Advent Journey, 2013: Looking for the Light – Day Eleven

 

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The words of Jesus:

“If you grow a healthy tree, you’ll pick healthy fruit. If you grow a diseased tree, you’ll pick worm-eaten fruit. The fruit tells you about the tree.

“You have minds like a snake pit! How do you suppose what you say is worth anything when you are so foul-minded? It’s your heart, not the dictionary, that gives meaning to your words. A good person produces good deeds and words season after season. An evil person is a blight on the orchard. Let me tell you something: Every one of these careless words is going to come back to haunt you. There will be a time of Reckoning. Words are powerful; take them seriously. Words can be your salvation. Words can also be your damnation.”

Matthew 12:33-37, The Message

Can you sense the rage in these words? The warning?

“Gentle Jesus, meek and mild” has left the building in this passage. And if you read a few of the verses before these in the 12th chapter of Matthew’s gospel,  you get some idea why he’s feeling a mite bit testy.

They accused him of ‘black magic’ after he healed a demon-possessed man who was blind and deaf. And at their slanderous words, Jesus unloads one of the sharpest speeches recorded in any of the gospels.

And that speech is all about WORDS.

Such powerful things, these small sounds we make, these feeble scratches we write. According to Jesus, words = fruit. What comes out of our mouths, or out of the ends of our fingers, are words that are either rich, ripe and nourishing OR worm-ridden, malodorous and sickening.

Jesus makes it crystal clear that this is a heart matter, the center of who we are is the source of every word that spills out of us. And every single syllable is potentially explosive, hurtful, maybe even dangerous. As followers of this one who comes to us at Christmas, this one who knew the pain and confusion of accusations and lies — can we be especially prayerful and alert, aware of the power we’ve been given?

It was The Word, John says that formed the universe and all that is in it. Are my words creative, careful, directed toward building up rather than tearing down?

It is The Word who indwells and enlivens us as we inhabit this place that is our home. Are we listening, asking for wisdom-filled-words that invite and encourage rather than reject and discourage?

Are we ‘working out our own salvation’ with what we speak and preach and teach and write?

Are we inviting others to a place of warmth and welcome as we walk our way toward Christmas Day? Or are we too frazzled, over-scheduled, sleep-deprived, out-of-sorts to make the extra effort?

Strong and insightful Lord Jesus, we need a nudge or two right now, as we approach the halfway point on our journey. We want to leave enough space in the day for you, Jesus. Enough space in us. That’s the only way I know how to watch my words, you see: I need to watch you. And to do that, I’ve got to step aside for just a few minutes – in the car or in the laundry room or standing at the sink or checking my email – I need to just take those minutes wherever I can grab them and watch you again. And listen, too. Remind me, okay? Call me back to center so that the fruit of my lips will reflect a quiet heart. Thank you.

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Comments

  1. Yes! Out of the wellspring of the heart… This is striking me powerfully today, my friend. Guarding my heart extra close today.

  2. And may we take the time, when the words have already slipped, to examine their roots; to allow even our indiscretions, to stand as an invitation toward home.
    I love that you’re reflecting on scripture through advent, Diana. It gives your reflections such a rootedness.

    • Thanks so much, Kelly. It’s a good practice for me – keeps me grounded. Thanks for your encouragement and your words, everywhere I find them.

  3. Enough space in the day for Jesus, enough space in us. I love the way you phrased that. Also just wanted you to know that I look forward to each of these Advent Journey entries, even though I don’t always comment. You always challenge me to quietly approach the day in a thoughtful way, and I so need quiet this year. Thanks.

  4. Thank you Diana – I think this prayer is one I will take with me to Christmas and beyond. We will be going to what promises to be a rather fraught family Christmas, with great potential for hurt and offense, and this prayer will be a good reminder to me to stop and breathe… and come into His presence. And hopefully when I come back out I will be carrying just a little more of Him!

  5. Lori Coleman says:

    I read this several days ago and pondered on how I use words. I can be pretty blunt sometimes and have hurt dear friends. Well, the next day I was taking a shower and remembered hurting someone again with my words. It was a cage memory but I felt terrible, especially after making this a conscious point of change. Then I remembered it was a dream, part of a nightmare I had that night and I gave a big sigh of relief.

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