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The Chalice
Friday, December 22 2023


“What’s in a word?”

This Sunday, which is firstly the Fourth Sunday of Advent, there is great emphasis in the lectionary readings about the “word” or speech in general. A word from the Lord comes to Nathan who instructs him to tell David to build a permanent tabernacle. Psalm 89 is sprinkled with references on words or speech. “My mouth will proclaim…” “Oath” “Spoke in a vision…” We should be well to remember that the Lord spoke all of creation into existence. “The Lord said, let there be light…” And then Mary proclaims one of the hardest and most humbling words we as Christians, and anyone to anyone else for that matter, can say. “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Difficult if only because our human nature wants to follow our will, my will, what I want to do.

If you were at Spirituality Group last week, you heard me talk on hope using my favorite theologian and thinker, Jacques Ellul. In another book of his, titled Humiliation of the Word, Ellul makes the distinction between reality, which is seen and has to do with sight, and the truth, which is spoken and heard through word. God reveals himself as Truth to all of reality (the reality he created by his Word) through the Word made Flesh. In today’s world, we seem to be more interested in what is seen. We demand proof and evidence (like St. Thomas!). Television, social media, advertisements have created what seems like a vortex of our attention. We spiral into binge watching our favorite TV shows or stay up late watching TikTok reels. We know that attention spans are decreasing. While many of grew up with television, we didn’t grow up with so many choices of screen time. Phones, tablets, televisions, video games, etc. I don’t wish to critique any parenting styles and know how convicted I am in my participation of screen time.

All of these images, however, can have the power to disconnect us from the source of all goodness and truth, God, who in his mighty power, came down to us, as a baby. (I’ve always wondered about those initial sounds baby Jesus made, those sweet coos, the yawn, the little grunts babies make when they stretch, just like the rest of us). Ellul does not argue that word and truth are superior to image and reality. Both are needed for the fullness of understanding who we are. So, what’s in a word? Everything else needed to make sense of what is in front of us. Jesus Christ will soon be here, the truth of God in the fullness of our reality. We are more than consumers of media or images.

Do you listen for a word from God? Sometimes this Word isn’t what we want to hear. Sometimes it’s exactly the answer to a prayer. It’s amazing who we can be and what we can do when we stop and listen and wait for the Word that creates us anew and allows us to say, “You called me, God, let it be done according to you.”

I hope you had a blessed Advent and have a Merry Christmas!

Fr. Zach

Posted by: Rev. Zach Baker, curate AT 01:36 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
St. John's Episcopal Church
12 Prospect St. | Huntington, NY 11743 | PH: (631) 427-1752
Sunday Services at 8 AM and 10 AM
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