All three readings for this morning speak of words. The Book of Revelation (10:8-11) and the Psalm (119, vs. 103) create strong visual images. The first is of “a voice from heaven” to John that commands him to swallow a scroll (!) after which he is to prophesy – apparently about what he has eaten which, by the way, soured his stomach. The psalmist sings of the word of God which is “sweeter than honey to the mouth.” In the gospel (LK 19:45-48), Jesus has some harsh words for those selling things in the temple saying that they have turned the temple from a house of prayer into a den of thieves. It seems that “every day he was teaching in the temple area while the chief priests, the scribes and the leaders of the people” were trying unsuccessfully to silence him – actually by putting him to death. The reason for the failure of this project, according to Luke is that “all the people were hanging on his words.”
There is so much here to contemplate! Language is the most fundamental method of communication and even the way we “deliver the message” can change it entirely. People with the gift of oratory can woo us into compliance – sometimes without our knowing it. Tone of voice can make us cower and sometimes those messages received can do even more damage than “souring” our stomachs. When there is a sign language interpreter at church the ritual becomes more profound for me if I listen and watch at the same time. In singing I find that my words of praise or longing touch me deeply as I hope they are touching God. Words have power for great good or devastating destruction.
All of this leads me to spend the day watching and listening to the words that inform my day, assuring that what comes out of my mouth adds to the building up rather than the tearing down of my personal “universe.” Let my first task be to wish you “Good morning!”