Wisdom We Speak

In the early days of email, when most of the world still used dial-up to connect to the Internet, I would have to connect twice to the server. First to download all of my new incoming messages then a second time to upload my responses. The technology imposed delay of several minutes and frequently an hour or more between writing a note and sending it would give me an opportunity to reconsider my words, amend what I had written, and occasionally not send a reply, or at least not send my initial response.

I wonder if we lost more than we gained with instant communications of text messages over letter writing with pen and paper. An ill formed text message can easily incite unintended passions. I recall colleagues in an email thread, before even simple emoticons had become widely used, coming getting into an argument not over what had been written, but in how it had been read. The sender had written the offending remark imagining the two of them had been sitting in his office chatting over a cup of coffee. The receiver imagined a much different inflection, that the remark had been made in the midst of a heated argument and he responded accordingly amplifying their misunderstandings.

The tongue is like a spark.
It is an evil power that dirties the rest of the body
and sets a person’s entire life on fire
with flames that come from hell itself.

— James 3:6 (CEV)

What a strange creature we humans are with words of blessing and curses coming from the same tongue. Thus we seek wisdom so our words will contribute to building God’s kingdom.

If only we could once again return to the days of paper and pen, when the sending a note meant days not milliseconds, when the act of finding stamps and an envelope might give us a moment to reread and perhaps revise our messages before placing a note in the mailbox. I suppose even letting a message sit in the draft folder for a few hours might give time for the peace of the Holy Spirit to give us a dose of patience to hear our words with open-minded consideration. My blog entries often benefit from a second glance between when they are written and when they finally post a week later.

I will have more to say about this passage on Sunday, September 13th, at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.

We will also be blessed by opening our worship service on September 13th with a traditional native Alaskan welcoming drumming song.