We near the end of the series The Power of Words as we seek to understand how the words we use have power to either give light or cloud in darkness. When we choose our words, we must remember their power.
This third week of the series, we explore the power of words in religion and politics. I have shared with several people outside of our worshiping congregation about the subject of our conversation. Generally, this is met with uncomfortable laughter and sometimes a number of guesses about specific topics for conversation. Primarily, this seems to be focused on the politics side rather than the religious side.
I suggest that there is no need to fear. My hope is to be both helpful and informative. On Sunday morning, we will welcome a special guest who will help us to understand how words are used in local government in both 1) off-camera collegial settings as well as 2) on paper to be voted by elected representatives. I trust you will find this as exciting and fascinating as I do!
1 Corinthians 1:10-12, 12:31b, 13:4-8a
1:10Now I encourage you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ: Agree with each other and don’t be divided into rival groups. Instead, be restored with the same mind and the same purpose. 11My brothers and sisters, Chloe’s people gave me some information about you, that you’re fighting with each other. 12What I mean is this: that each one of you says, “I belong to Paul,” “I belong to Apollos,” “I belong to Cephas,” “I belong to Christ.”
12:31bAnd I’m going to show you an even better way.
13:4Love is patient, love is kind, it isn’t jealous, it doesn’t brag, it isn’t arrogant, 5it isn’t rude, it doesn’t seek its own advantage, it isn’t irritable, it doesn’t keep a record of complaints, 6it isn’t happy with injustice, but it is happy with the truth. 7Love puts up with all things, trusts in all things, hopes for all things, endures all things.
8aLove never fails.
Consider these questions:
- There is no shortage of examples of the power of words coming from our local and national elected officials. Do these words have power? Why or why not?
- If these words have power, how do you see that power in use? If not, where does power tend to be?
- Where do you see the most effective use of words (with or without power) from local and national elected officials?
- Where do you see the most effective use of words in religious settings or from religious leaders?
- In questions 3 and 4, how are these different?
Post-sermon follow up on 1/24
Audio from the sermon can be heard below, and video can be found by clicking this link (will open in a new tab).
I confess that I experienced some trepidation in preparing for this message time, and I was told by several members of our worshiping community both before and after the worship series that others did as well. Even so, I find it critical for persons on all sides of political dialogue to remember our call to lift up rather than tear down.
One of our members was traveling this past Sunday and told me that the United Methodist Church that he visited in another town read this statement (will open in a new tab) from the Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church on a recent example of harmful and divisive language widely reported by news agencies.
Another aspect of political dialogue where we can take a great deal of responsibility is in our own direct interactions. Political conversations happen every day. We talk with loved ones and strangers, in person and over social media, commenting on news websites, and more. Each time we do so, we can choose how we will communicate. We can choose to discuss policies and issues, and we can choose to insult and denigrate those with whom we disagree. In political climates that are heated, I think these choices become even more critical.
Consider these questions:
- What did you think about having a political conversation in church? How do these conversations fit into your understanding of faith and politics or the separation between church and state?
- How does your faith inform your political leanings? Or vice versa?
- Think about political conversations in which you have engaged where you were in disagreement with conversation partners. What was the spirit of those conversations, and what (if any) was the result?
- Can/will you make any changes to the ways you engage in these conversations based on these scriptures or this series?