A MESSAGE FROM REV. J.C. AUSTIN: Share your ‘good words’

A few weeks ago, I announced that we will be starting a sermon series after Pentecost (which is observed on May 23 this year) called “A Good Word,” in which we will explore a particular word or concept from a Biblical perspective.

The words themselves, however, may be almost anything. Some of them may be very “churchy,” while others may have nothing to do, at least directly, with Scripture or faith. If you have a word or concept that you want to suggest, there is still time; please send it to info@fpc-bethlehem.org or call the Church Office (610-867-5865) and leave it in a voicemail message.

I’m excited about this series, because it takes the power and importance of words seriously. One of the greatest lies we sometimes learn as children is the phrase, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” But that is a lie. Words can and do hurt far, far more than physical pain.

When used maliciously, just a few words can destroy a relationship, divide a community, or start a war. The pain of cruel words from a parent or teacher can last for years, decades, even a whole life. On the other hand, just a few words can create a relationship, heal a division, or establish a just and lasting peace. The power of inspiring words from a parent or teacher can carry us through some of the most difficult seasons of our lives. Words shape our identity, our beliefs, our perception of reality, our understanding of faith.

So: what words make you curious, make you apprehensive, make you confident? What words have you always struggled to understand, or felt were problematic, or wondered if people were using correctly or helpfully?

The words that we’re already considering are all some kind of answer to those questions, I think; words like forgiveness, anger, justice, atonement, play, soul, and past. We’re eager to see what new words may still find their way into the mix, and which ones seem to have the most interest among the congregation.

So if you haven’t responded to the invitation to help influence the content of preaching here at First Pres this summer, don’t wait any longer! Get your words in, and I’m looking forward to exploring together!

Grace and Peace,