Monday, March 4, 2013

Talk - worshipful?

      In worship, there’s talk; the preacher talks; hopefully we talk to each other, at least politely, hopefully frankly, fully aware of being in a holy place.  Worship may just be a school in how to talk during the week.
     You are about to open your mouth (or type the words…).  But why?  What’s about to pop out of there?  As one who blurts things out before thinking, I’ve longed to be like George Washington, who famously was thought to be quite wise simply because he didn’t say much.
     Can the simple act of talking (or not) help me (and others) toward (or away from) God?  “Let the words of my mouth be acceptable to you, O Lord” (Psalm 19:14).  I doubt God expects some pious, sugary, lilting niceness in our talk.  But can we think of talk as an exercise of our faith?
     Talk is cheap; we hear so much decadent, even vicious talk.  Words expose who we are; words wound; words heal and give life.  Can I be not just honest but encouraging, saying things that are excellent, helpful to others? 
     Can I learn when to refrain from talk?  Bonhoeffer suggested that "Often we combat our evil thoughts most effectively if we absolutely refuse to allow them to be expressed in words."  Tell the truth; but sometimes just hush if the truth is harmful?
     If someone monitored your talk over a year or two, what would they conclude really matters to you?  Would they get a sense that God is in your life? or that you are kind? or compassionate? or virtuous (without being smug)?  What is the tone of my talk? and is my talk (over many years) becoming more? or less acceptable to God? and encouraging to others?
     We want to talk about God, but we may get tongue-tied.  Worship may just teach us how to talk about God out there.  Dorothy Day said, "If I have achieved anything in my life, it is because I have not been embarrassed to talk about God."