Words, Resolutions, and Action
I love words: spoken words and written words. Much of my life as a minister is about words. I write thousands of words each week for sermons. Even more go into emails, newsletter articles, and messages. I remember in high school and college thinking a 500 word or 1000 word essay seemed so daunting. Today, I am not sure that I could write anything meaningful in less than 500 words.
I fell in love with theology because it was words about God. Theology opened up a treasure trove of words, essays, books, and collections. My copy of Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatic takes up half of a shelf. (Jurgen Moltmann takes up the rest of that particular shelf.) Even in this role, I lead book studies, at least partially, so that I can read words and talk about those words with others that like words.
One could argue that the reason Presbyterians are often called the “Frozen Chosen” is because we love words too much. On the whole, we are a cerebral group. We like to think about all those words that come to us in sermon, scripture, bible study, and more. We ponder those words. They may even change our hearts. Often, all we do is sit with those words.
It is ironic that we have this relationship to words, especially scripture. The words of scripture describe actions, impact, and effect. They are not neutral, frozen, or lifeless. While they may peak the interest of the brain, they are meant for more. From the Gospel of Mark where Mark uses “and” in the Greek version repetitively to drive the action forward to the Gospel of John where the Word becomes flesh, these words are active and alive. These words describe action. God’s action in creation. Christ’s action in his ministry among us. The action of the Holy Spirit that continues to act. Our action in response to the actions of God and one another. They are words of action that model, invite, and compel our action.
A New Year brings with it new resolutions. We resolve to do something or stop doing something. (I have stopped drinking Dr. Pepper again.) How much are these resolutions just words though? Whether the resolution is said aloud, written down, or posted online, they are words. Instead, how do we make 2022 about action? As much as we may love our words, how do we as a people of God and a presbytery become a people of action?
I resolve to act this year.