(Notes from the September 29th sermon at Cross Point Churches in Nashville, Franklin, and Dickson, Tennessee, USA)
Whatever is in our heart comes out of our mouth. Just avoiding sin by keeping quiet is not God’s goal for us. God’s goal is that we will have and share joy, peace, hope, faith, and love.
Everyone needs healing, no matter how fortunate or together they may seem.
Today in our relationships have our words been healing or damaging? For most of us it will have been a mix of both. Some of us did not experience being built up verbally when we were growing up, so we may be uncomfortable loving in this way. But choosing comfort over building others up is a tragic choice.
The scriptures urge us to build others up according to their needs. This assumes we care enough about others to spend the time and effort to learn their needs.
The challenge for today is to list our top 5 closest relationships and become aware of whether we use words to build those loved ones up, or damage them, or just speak about the weather and safe impersonal things, assuming they know they are loved and admired and appreciated., or do we even speak to them on a regular basis at all?
As parents, our grown children, no matter how old, will still be like drought stricken flowers soaking in our life-giving words of affirmation and love. As grown children, our parents, no matter how old or even forgetful, will also soak up words of love and affirmation that will touch and heal their weary hearts. As spouses are the words exchanged in the frantic mornings or the exhausted evenings only reminders like pick up the laundry or questions as to whether we did? Are our longest conversations “nag lists” or worries about the children or money?
Today, tomorrow, the rest of the week, listen not only to your words, but listen to what’s missing. Are our words, words of life, or words of death, or even just silent deserts?
I do not attend this multi-congregational, non-denominational church, but I do listen to the sermons that are streamed online at 6pm on Sunday nights. This is the 3rd in a series of 6 on relationships. This church balances its words with action. The Dickson congregation meets in the high school auditorium. They pay rent, but also do things like paint the walls and this week they are cleaning up the stadium after the football game. They have adopted a stretch of a local road which they keep clean, they are chopping wood for people who need it for winter, and both adults and children visit nursing homes taking food and crafts they have made. They have outreach to Appalachia and third world countries where their members provide much needed services and supplies. They are beginning a new ministry to victims of slavery.
Their sermons can be heard online at Cross Point Church Nashville, Tennessee at 6pm each Sunday by clicking on Messages.
Christ came this Christmas for me in a moment of clarity. He came when I recognized with deep joy that my husband and I finally “get” each other.
We were total opposites in personality, in upbringing, in spirituality, in interests, values, in our ways of responding to people and life. Our sense of humors differed, our ways of expressing and receiving love also. It has been a challenging fifty-four year journey, side by side, but never quite together.
Today, Christmas day, I realized that a few days ago for the first time, he actually heard something spiritual I wrote and responded spontaneously from the heart, and today I also realized that I see the physical world in new ways(his)and frequently now laugh out loud when I have spontaneous humorous images flash into my mind when I read or hear certain things, just like he has tried to explain to me over the years. The gift of our seventies has been shared laughter.
When I reflect on the ways we’ve changed, I think it took more than just accepting how each other are, it took actually learning how to see through each other’s eyes and hear with their ears; for him to be able to feel with me and for me to become able to step back from feelings and see things logically. For him to be able to express love and for me to be happy showing it in small acts of service.
We are far from perfect at this, but we have broken through the walls of self and begun to experience being one.
Isn’t it amazing that life and love begin anew so many times and that it’s never too late to love in new ways?
Thank you, Lord Jesus, for coming once more, with your gifts of love.
More than walls of brick or thorn
our walls of silent words unborn
still keep us from becoming one.
Our walls of pride leave us remote
as if we wore a buttoned coat
of our own selfishness.
Until, ashamed of loss of heart
we seek, in faith, the grace to start
to risk ourselves once more.
To heal the hurt with words of love
and find a way to rise above
the lonely walls of self.