On Words mattering

My friend, Chris Duckworth, a minister in Arlington, VA and blogger at The Lutheran Zephyr, shared this in his sermon this morning, and I would like to share it here.

A few months ago,
    when comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert held a rally on the Mall,
    a lot of people dismissed their efforts as little more than a publicity stunt
    and thinly-veiled politicking just two weeks prior to the election.
Part satire, part political demonstration,
    these comedians lampooned our nation’s broken politics,
    and assailed its hateful, vitriolic political rhetoric.
Comedians did this, because few others had the guts to do so.

And perhaps as many as two hundred thousand people attended,
    to take a stand – and have a laugh doing so –
    calling for our nation to turn down the rhetoric of vitriol and animosity,
    to stop labeling political opponents as enemies and
    to stop characterizing politics as warfare,
    as if our elections were a matter of life or death,
        as if one party were the path to socialism and the other to fascism,
        both roads to ruin and death.
Give me a break.
We’re all Americans, these comedians said,
    and they bid everyone – particularly the news media – to just calm the freak down.
Though it is not clear what motivated Jared Lee Loughner
    to target Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords yesterday at a Tuscon, AZ, event,
    early indications are that politics were at least a contributing factor.
Our political discourse is sick, it is terribly sick,
    and the environment in which Jared Loughner acted is terribly polluted with
    violent imagery, false us/them dichotomies,
        and extreme language that only hurts our country
        tears its people apart.
The way we talk about those with whom we disagree has consequences.
They things that TV and radio star commentators say,
    on the left and on the right, have consequences.
The bumper stickers we place on our cars
    and the links we post on Facebook have consequences.
The fear that the media feeds on for ratings has consequences.
The polarization of our nation into red and blue
    rips at the fabric of our flag and denies our unity as We the People,
    seeking a more perfect union.

Words are powerful things.
We Christians should know this more than most,
    for we follow a Word made flesh who speaks words of hope and of life,
Jesus, the living Word of God, died so that death would have no more power over us;
    He is the Word of Life that silences words of death and hatred and violence.
God has spoken his Word into our world and into our lives …
    but it has not yet been fulfilled, completely.
Just a look around will make that truth abundantly clear.
God’s living Word promises to come to us again and to make things new,
    in the blessed future when Christ comes again to usher in his Kingdom.
For that we wait in hope and we live in hope,
    speaking words of life and of hope now,
    witnessing now to the gifts of life and love that Christ gives to us,
    knowing that our Lord is present in the suffering of this world,
        and that suffering is not the end of the story for him or for us.
We are confident in what Christ has done and what Christ promises yet to do.
And so may we speak words of life and of hope into the world this day,
    echoing the Living Word who took on flesh and dwelled among us,
    who did not let death defeat him, but who rose again,
        the first fruit of the new creation promised to us all.

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