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Words Matter – Daily Devotions

March 4, 2014


I am thrilled that the Rev. Anne Tiemeyer has granted the White Plains Presbyterian Church permission to distribute the Daily Lenten Prayers originally composed for the Words Matter Project of the National Council of Churches of Christ. These prayers utilize inclusive expansive language for God and nurture care in the words we use to speak to, with and about one another. I encourage readers of this blog to subscribe to these daily prayer for a meaningful Lent. My colleagues and I will also use these reflections to shape our Sunday worship experiences.

The following is from the 2011 iteration of the project:

We’ve all heard it before, and we’ve probably said it too, in an effort to cheer up a child reeling from the effects of name-calling or insults: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”  Perhaps we so often repeat this rhyme in the hopes that saying it will make it true.  Each of us knows that words have the power to wound deeper than sticks and stones, and no matter how firmly we assert that we are rubber and not glue, words have a way of sticking deep in our bones.

As followers of Christ, God’s Word made incarnate, we also know that words have the power to transform, to inspire and to bring life.  Words of scripture and the traditional words of our communities can link us together and draw us into fellowship across space and time.

There are so many ways that words shape our world — we watch politicians and news anchors “spin” stories with slick word tricks.  Advertisers tease us with promises of “new,” “improved,” and “all-natural” with no clear definitions of what those terms actually mean.  Expressions like “blackmail,” “white lie,” and “black sheep” reveal just how deeply racial prejudices lie in our collective body.  Clearly, our words do matter.

This Lent, we invite you to the spiritual discipline of paying attention to your words.  Far from a desire to be politically correct, Words Matter focuses on deep thinking about what is really at stake in the words we use, acknowledging that words can be used to tear down — but hopeful that more of us will embrace the potential of words to build up.

We hope you benefit from the spiritual discipline of paying attention to words and sharing this practice with others. Our Words Matter.

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