Marvin Repinski: Words can reach a person’s heart – Austin Daily Herald
“(Pray) also for me, that words may be given to me as I boldly open my mouth to proclaim the mystery of the gospel.” (Ephesians 6:19)
Are there any religious phrases that bother you? Are there any words associated with religious life that sound hackneyed, weird, or contrarian?
Words are used to communicate. One set of them that has bothered some people is in the traditional Holy Communion service. I’ve had more than one person question the statement, “We acknowledge and mourn our multiple sins and wickedness.”
It is a strong language. Place this in a “my” culture, or in the midst of a society where many “with” people are tied to some form of human potential movement and it seems counterproductive.
People have even asked why we don’t update the language to conform to our real understanding. “What is this understanding?” I like to ask.
Most people recognize that life is a mixture of good and bad. So we admit that our best motivations are clouded by impulses we could do without. We are a bit like a rose garden; beautiful flowers and thorns combined.
It is part of our wisdom to see our lives in a broad perspective. We fail, we fall short of our ideals, and there are behaviors that deserve someone to call us a heel. And yet, we are people made for noble purposes. The Bible suggests that we are “created in the image of God.” Side by side, two views; we are not worthy and yet we are quite worthy. The Christian faith announces that the grace of God impels us to say both — and to do everything with one breath.
Someone said he felt like a tooth capped with gold decaying from the inside. It can give us a doorway to understanding human nature. Great literature is so often worth preserving because of its ability to feel this dual tension in our characters. We are a combination of the small, offensive and selfish residing side by side with what is noble, beautiful and great.
Again, the complex multi-personal meaning that can cloud us is described in the New Testament. The writer was, it seems, having a scum day! “We have become and still are, like the scum of the world, the scum of all things. (1 Corinthians 4:13)
Barry L. Johnson wrote of his growing awareness of his understanding of God and his life: “My search heightened during my freshman year at Wheaton College, when the news professor wrote a headline on the board and asked us to write a story. to adapt it. The title was “Sometimes there’s a hole in the ceiling”. After much effort, many crumpled pages, and unsolicited advice from my house brothers, I cooked up a story about a ghetto family who received unexpected help from an unexpected source. The story ended with “Sometimes there’s a hole in the ceiling; it was made for the hand of God. When the paper returned with an A minus, the whole house celebrated the victory.
Mr Johnson then states looking back on that experience. “The hole in the ceiling has widened…I am aware that God’s presence is limited only by our perception.” Let’s cultivate a kind of openness that could even make sense of difficult words and sentences.
Our words of honesty not only affect the people who receive them, but a joke can crash into an action of getting it right.
A reflection by Terry Helwig of Louisville, Kentucky.
“I left the wallpaper store trying to decide if the bathroom really needed wallpapering. Paper is more expensive than I thought. I couldn’t make up my mind.
On the way to the car, I remembered that I needed two boxes of plastic sheets for my files. Some people can’t resist sweets; I can’t resist the lure of an office supply store.
When the clerk rang the bill I thought it sounded low, but I paid what he asked for and took my bag to the car. There, I compared my purchases with the receipt. As I suspected: The employee had only called for one box of plastic sheets.
At home, a throbbing feeling attracted me. I knew I should make amends. The store had already closed. But the next morning, I gave my receipt to the clerk. “Salvation. I came yesterday and bought two boxes of your plastic ring binder sheets. You only charged me for one box.
“Well, I guess you owe us eleven dollars,” he said in surprise. “Thank you for coming back”
I paid the eleven dollars and walked out feeling much happier. I was so happy, in fact, that I decided to go next and buy this bathroom wallpaper. When I told the woman what I wanted, she said, “Well, today must be your lucky day!” We just reduced this paper this morning. That’s thirty percent less!