Do you remember how God created the universe? Here’s what the Bible says, 1 In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, 2 the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. 3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.” How did God create the world? He spoke it into being.
To modern ears that might sound fabulous, like a fantasy. But we respond, “Not so fast.”
The ancients understood something we are slow to recognize. The power of speech.
People in the ancient world understood the power of language, of the spoken word. Modern people are dismissive of it.
But consider. You come home from a business trip and tell your spouse, “I really missed you.” Your spouse says nothing. Your world is turned upside down.
The person you have been dating for months says for the first time, “I am falling in love with you.” Time stops.
You tell your child, “I have asked you four times now to cleanup your room and your child says, “I hate you!” Your whole reality is undermined.
Your mother is near the end of her life. You sit by her bedside and she says, “You know, I have always been proud of you.”
We are human beings and words and language are an enormous power in our lives.
God made us this way. When God brought the news of our salvation into the world it was called gospel, “Good news;” the proclamation of the best thing we could hear. Jesus sent his apostles into the world with a message, to tell the glad tidings. Jesus himself is the “logos,” the Word of God.
God tells us he loves in Jesus and shows us he loves us in the cross and shows us his power over death for our sake in the resurrection. We preach and proclaim this gospel in word. We tell the world about God and his mighty works.
We begin every worship service with a “votum”, which is a solemn pledge, a dedication, a vow. Votum is the root of our word vote, a word prominent in the headlines of the news of our country right now. It (the vote or votum) is the saying of what we want. It is the saying of the candidate we back. Often, when a country goes to war, before a single battle is fought there is a “declaration” of war. A declaration is a stating clearly, an explanation.
Words matter. We are giddy when our little child utters his first word (usually daddy!) It is the very first step towards being human. When our child utters his or her first complete sentence it sweeps us off our feet.
God speaks. We respond in worship in speech. We exalt God’s name. We reassure one another using his promises. We encourage one another with words. We lift one another up with kind speech. We show our character by living up in action to what we have said.
Words lodge themselves deep within us. A favorite humorist of mine asks, “Why could I not memorize the laws of physics but the tape of Susie Mills telling me no when I asked her to the eighth-grade dance never stops playing in my head?” We may forget the rules of grammar of the foreign language we studied, but something ugly or unkind said to us is engraved in our memory.
James in his epistles warns us of the destructive power words have. Us with caution! Words also have the power to reconcile and to heal.
I could go on and on – think about spoken promises we make in baptism. Think about our vows in joining the church or marrying our true love.
Is it too much to say there is more power in the spoken word than the split atom? God spoke the universe into being and he spoke his love to life in our hearts.
Let us pray. Heavenly Father, never stop talking to us. Your words are pure and heal us and lift us up. Lord, temper our speech. Save us from saying hurtful things. Use our lips to show forth your praise and to build up those around us. Use our mouths to say forgiving words to others. Use our mouths to show that inside of us, right at the core of our lives, your Spirit dwells and speaks through us. We ask in Jesus’ name, the Word of God. Amen.