Speaking Out
September 10, 2015, 3:37 PM

This week we are celebrating the fact that we have met our goal for the Stabilization Fund capital campaign. (Woot!)

I’ve been wrestling with the question of what to preach on Sunday.  I would like to take the time to witness to the power of faith and hope alive in our community.

So today’s column will, in a sense, substitute for some of the thoughts I would otherwise bring up on Sunday morning.  It’s not a full-bore sermon, but I hope you find some food for thought here!

This week’s reading from James concerns the dangers that come when we speak without thinking or speak unkindly. He compares the tongue the words we say) to a fire from hell. 

When I was growing up, my parents would occasionally remind me that if I could say nothing kind, I should say nothing at all.

As we look around and listen in on conversations and debate, we can hear lots of unkind things being said. James urges us to use our tongues to “bless the Lord and Father.”  But from our mouths come words of both blessing and cursing. 

These thoughts reflect what he said elsewhere in the letter about the need for us to be single-minded, not switching back and forth between the holy and the profane.  He asks, “What spring gives forth water both sweet and salt? Can a fig tree yield olives?”  He feels we should be true to God in all we do and we say.

So should we stop maligning people who are saying harmful things, because that makes us like them?

Yet if we remain silent, then who will defend the victims of unkind speech, of hate speech, of error and ignorance?  Who will teach?

Like most things in life, there seem to be inescapable tensions and contradictions as we try to live out the Good News through love of God and neighbor.

It’s been said that the only thing necessary for evil to prevail is for good people to say – or do – nothing.  So obviously, there are times when we do need to speak up or stand up – against bullies, against ignorance, against hate speech, against injustice.

I think the best advice I can give, then, is before we speak, to pray for the other, first and last. 

Remember in whose name we seek redress, in whose name we strive to live and to love.  Then speak the truth, not in anger but in love, not with cursing but with hope.