The Words that Hold Us
Kathy Douglass, Music Director and Liturgist
As I was gathering prayers and readings from the Iona Abbey worship book for our time together this morning, I came across this lovely collection of the Words of Jesus that you find in your bulletin. I read through them a few times and considered how these might take root, inhabit my heart and mind, how they might, if I let them, transform my thinking, my way of being, my way of relating, my way of becoming.
We are shaped by the words spoken to us. Words that are life-giving and full of air to breathe, words that are like a cup of cool water on a muggy afternoon. We are shaped, also, by words that take our breath away in their harshness, words that cut deeply and leave wounds that never quite scar over but re-open again and again.
Here are some of the words that have shaped me: You are just so… fill in the blank. You are just not… fill in the blank. I love how you always… fill in the blank. I hate how you always… fill in the blank. I know, and it’s ok. I know, and it’s not ok. Can you believe how far you’ve come? Are you ever going to do anything about your… ?... Fill in the blank. I love you. I just don’t love you anymore.
Take just a moment… in this quiet, can you call to mind a few words that have been spoken to you? Those that filled you with life, helped you to keep breathing? Or those that knocked you to the ground like a kick in the gut and took your breath away? Take just a moment.
I’ve been blessed to work with 2 spiritual directors in my life (there’s a shameless plug for engaging a spiritual director). Both of them have taught me this: that if I pay attention, I may find, tucked inside the words spoken to me, invitations from God. Often, I am being invited into deeper understanding, deeper relationship, deeper peace.
There’s no denying the sting of some of the words spoken to us. The words Jesus offers us are salve and balm, they are strength and song, they are light and purpose. They are, indeed, way, and truth and life. A spiritual truth that resonates with me is that the Spirit of God does not dwell within us to spare us from every harsh word, every humiliation, every sorrow. Rather, to be present with us in it.
I’d like to have us read these words of Jesus together. And listen for the salve and the balm, the strength and the song, the light and the purpose. They are here, for each one of us, no matter the other words spoken that have made a mark on our lives. Listen for the invitation, tucked inside these truths…
Hear now the words of Jesus spoken to each of us:
My peace I give to you. Do not be afraid. I call you my friend. Abide in my love.
Follow me. Even the hairs of your head are numbered.
I am the way for you. I am the life for you. I am the truth for you.
Blessed are your eyes for they see. You are my witnesses.
You are my sister. You are my brother.
I am hungry, give me food. I am in prison, come to me. I am thirsty, give me drink.
I am a stranger, welcome me. I am naked, clothe me. I am sick visit me.
Abide in me and I in you. I will drink wine with you in the kingdom of God.
You will shine like the sun. You are in me and I in you. Ask and it will be given you.
Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened to you.
I am the vine; you are the branch. I will give you rest. You are the light of the world.
You are the salt of the earth. Give and it will be given to you.
Love others as I have loved you. The truth will make you free. Feed my sheep.
Watch and pray. I am with you always.
Lord, may these words take root in me, inhabit my heart and mind. May I allow them to
transform my thinking, my way of being, my way of relating, my way of becoming.
Lord, you are salve and balm. You are strength and song. You are light and purpose. AMEN.