Words have Power !

from Rev. Bruce Wood - May 2019

Published in News First — our monthly church newsletter  

The English language can sometime be rather misleading - especially where there are two or even three meanings for a particular word.  For example ‘fair’ - can mean a country fair, it can mean a fair complexion, or it can mean to be fair.  There are also other words that are spelt differently but have the same sound.  For example to, too, and two, or there, their, and they’re.

An extreme example is the word "set" which apparently has 464 different definitions in the Oxford English Dictionary - the word "run" has 396 different meanings - and the word "go" seemingly has 368 different meanings.  Far to/too/two numerous to/too/two get your head around.

Sometime the meaning of the word is mixed up when we translate them into another language.  For example a warning to motorists in Tokyo said that "When a passenger of the foot heave in sight, tootle the horn.  Trumpet at him melodiously at first, but if he still obstacles your passage, then tootle him with vigour."  Or as seen in a hotel in Athens - Visitors are expected to complain at the office between the hours of 9 and
11 a.m. daily.  Or as advertised by a Hong Kong dentist - "Teeth extracted by the latest Methodists".

How many times do you remember being told as a kid - to mind your language, when you have used words that we deem to be inappropriate or classed as ‘swear words’ - however they are all just words.  Our words have their own way of conveying messages to other people.  Sometimes that is straightforward and easy, while other times we misunderstand or only partially hear the words of another person and we may become annoyed, or shocked, or pleasantly surprised by what we think we hear.  The words we receive from others are put through the filter of our own thoughts and own understanding of life - where we place specific meaning of some words, and almost no meaning on others.

In this way words can change people’s lives - they can destroy, and they can move people to such an extent that they change their whole life direction.  For example allegations of sexual misconduct against a person can destroy that person’s future prospects - whether they are true or not - for often mud sticks.  Likewise, the right words used at the right time, in the right manner, with the right attitude, can build up, and encourage, and support a person to stretch out their hands and walk forward with confidence and conviction.

Such words have the capacity to squeeze out despair, and replace it with hope - to replace desolation with possibility - and to remove misery, and replace it with hopefulness.  These are words of life to the dejected and the hopeless - words of possibility to the downtrodden and despairing - words of new and exciting possibilities that a moment ago, were simply dust.

Jesus had a fantastic way of using words to challenge and to support, to confront and to comfort, to provoke and to enthuse.  And we also know that Jesus lived in a physical world with all of its situational realities, and yet was not one to let people get away with simply feeling sorry for themselves because of another’s words - or by being fobbed off with well worn clichés - or by racing ahead of ourselves with half-truths and hear-say.  Jesus was - and still is - looking for real answers - with real commitment - from real people.

At his eloquent best, Jesus spoke of enormously significant events in an easy and understandable manner.  He would also often answer questions with questions - to bring about more thought and hopefully some insight to the questioner - or as modern theory goes - to practice mindfulness.  He was also known for offending the people of his day - not out of spite, but to get them to look past their well trodden, habitual, and often restrictive cultural and domestic habits.

Jesus well understood that his words would have a deep impact on those who listened.  Many of his words and his actions upset the local church authorities - troubled those who were traditionally in charge - and agitated those who kept strict control of the masses.

If you choose to be Christian, be prepared to answer hard questions.  Jesus’ love comes in the form of questions and we can’t simply just fob him off.  So choose your words carefully, as words have power - however, it’s ultimately our actions - motivated by our thoughts and our beliefs - that will make the difference on our world.  We will be known by whether our actions fit with our words.

Peace  Rev. Bruce Wood