The Rev’d Robert Warren 
1 Thessalonians 2:9-13

What are words after all? We might say to each other that “acts speak louder than words” when we are faced with the unpleasant truth of somebody else’s behavior - that person’s commission or omission in spite of their promises which speaks loudly of their lack of care or respect for us or for others. Some of us were raised by people who followed their words with acts - others were raised by people who had things to hide or who shielded themselves and their weakness behind a barrage of language. We might have grown up to believe that words are, at best, empty indicators of a person’s true intention.

We have been both healed and harmed by words over the years. We may have
had occasion to be disappointed by empty words and yet we are aware of their power to
both build up and tear down.

In this Sunday’s second reading Paul proclaims that “God’s at work in you believers” and here the place of the word is like that of a seed, taking root in the rich humus of the human community and, with a little care and nourishment, growing into something strong, transformative and dynamic. Paul’s community was not unlike our own - made up of busy men, women and young people. These communities were, however, planted with a word - the idea, the story, the narrative that God had entered into the fallen world through his son - described in John’s Gospel as The Word - and had forever changed the fortunes of the universe. The word about the Word - the preaching of Christ or, as Paul would put it in First Corinthians, the Word of the Cross could be depended on to interact powerfully with the believing human soul and leave in its wake a palpable change.

The Saints of old heard and believed. Were they more susceptible than we are to the power of words? Or did they not need, as well, to overcome the same hesitancy and suspicion as we might have about what was being spoken to them? Our own saints - here in France this
Sunday - will have the same opportunity to be open to God planting a word deep within them: 

A word of love and promise. If you will let it take root, it will indeed change you. If you speak it yourself it will change those around you.

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