A Pavement of Words

Readings: Psalm 21; Genesis 15:1-18; Matthew 12:33-37

Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person brings good things out of a good treasure, and the evil person brings evil things out of an evil treasure. I tell you, on the day of judgement you will have to give an account for every careless word you utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned. Matthew 12:34b-37

Careless words aren’t the four letter ones I might say if I drop a frying pan on my foot. They aren’t the awkward sentences that come from nervous teens giving an oral report, and they aren’t the outbursts of cranky children well past their bedtimes. Jesus said these words to pharisees who accused him of using demonic power to heal a possessed person. He is talking about words that reveal an “I could care less” attitude, words that dismiss and diminish the one who hears them. Sarcasm that pokes fun with a barbed stick, accusations meant to shame, taunts that shatter a fragile sense of self: these are the careless words that will be given back to me and require an explanation.

My path through Advent is paved with the intentional words of scripture. They keep me on the way, and they give me a chance to appreciate the wonder of the Christ child. They lead me to life, and they ask me to love God and the God created world. They remind me that what is heard and read will be digested and remembered. They will produce fruit.

Do my words pave a path? Where does the path take the ones who hear them? If I remember to ask myself these two questions, perhaps I will no longer utter careless words. Perhaps all my words will be full of care. Perhaps the love they convey will shine a light in a dark place. For Advent and beyond, I’d like to try.

Come, Lord Jesus, Come.

Published by

Johnna

I am a Christian educator and writer.I have worked in churches, denominational offices, and seminaries. I have a PhD in Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, with a focus on Practical Theology and educating in faith. In 2010, my book, "How the Other Half Lives: the challenges facing clergy spouses and partners," was published by Pilgrim Press. I believe that words can build doorways that lead to encounters with God through the Spirit.

One thought on “A Pavement of Words”

  1. I see the path–it is paved with a montage of beautiful words. The bolder words are made up of our Advent themes for each Sunday: Peace, Hope, Joy, and Love. YOUR words paved the way to my thinking of this–thank you.

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