Some people are really sensitive to words. Sticks and stones can break my bones but words…they can be devastating!
A number of years ago I came a book by Gary Chapman, a relationship counsellor from the US. In his books he outlines 5 ways that most of us give and receive love. These were gifts; acts of service; physical touch; quality time and words of affirmation.
Some people are more sensitive to words than others – they like to affirm others – and need affirmation, but if you use words to cut them down – the damage can take a long time to repair. Proverbs 18:21 says that the tongue has power over life and death; James 3 talks about the importance of taming the tongue and Luke records Jesus as saying ‘a tree is recognised by it’s fruit’ and ‘out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks’ (Luke 6:43-45).
What we store up inside becomes the focus for our lives. Several years ago I came across the concept of ‘heliotropism’ – which states that plants bend towards the source of light. In the same way our lives bend towards the energy – as groups and as individuals. If we focus on the positive and the good, then that becomes the source of the overflow. But if we are always focussed on the negative or if our lives do not have a positive centre, then you cannot expect the fruit of our lives to be healthy and wholesome.
Jesus is described in John 1:14 as the word that became flesh (incarnate) and lived amongst us. Jesus said his ‘words’ endure forever. He’s consistent; reliable and a promise keeper. He promised his disciples that he would return…but in the mean time we must not get complacent, but live with the anticipation that it could be anytime. So for two thousand years the church has waited…living in the tension between the first coming of Christ and his return; planning long term, while living with the urgency that challenges us to share the good news with others daily.
This is what advent is all about. It’s a reminder of what Christ has already done – but it’s an anticipation of what he has promised he will do. We focus on the word who became flesh; on Jesus (saviour) our Emmanuel (God with us). We are reminded that Jesus is the light for all of creation across all of time and we celebrate the greatest gift of all.
So, this advent, let’s think about our words and actions (and what sort of fruit they show) and let us affirm again the good news, that is the essence of Christmas. Jesus, the word, became one of us so that he could give us the greatest gift ever, so that ‘all who receive him…who believe in his name…have the right to become children of God!’ (John 1:12).