I invite you to read this scripture from James 3:1-12. This version is from “The Message” but I encourage you to read this section from other translations as well.
1 Don’t be in any rush to become a teacher, my friends. Teaching is highly responsible work. Teachers are held to the strictest standards. 2And none of us is perfectly qualified. We get it wrong nearly every time we open our mouths. If you could find someone whose speech was perfectly true, you’d have a perfect person, in perfect control of life. 3 A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse. 4A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds. 5A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it! 6A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell. 7This is scary: You can tame a tiger, 8but you can’t tame a tongue—it’s never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. 9With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. 10Curses and blessings out of the same mouth! 11A spring doesn’t gush fresh water one day and brackish the next, does it? 12Apple trees don’t bear strawberries, do they? Raspberry bushes don’t bear apples, do they? You’re not going to dip into a polluted mud hole and get a cup of clear, cool water, are you?
Taming the tongue—wow, is that ever a challenge. How many times has your tongue gotten you into trouble? Oh, let me count the times. I keep reminding myself (and others when the opportunity presents itself) that God created us with two ears and one mouth so that we would listen twice as much as we talk.
The increase of COVID over the past month plus has caused a lot of tongue flapping as well as some anger we were becoming accustomed to somewhat normalcy when things began to change None of us want to go backwards. We are tired and we are angry. We would prefer to tune out the CDC; Chautauqua County Health Department; The Upper New York Conference; the news from all sources—all giving us updated recommendations and requirements to follow for the safety of all.
Much of the anger is being directed at the unvaccinated who are now becoming ill because the rise in cases could have been prevented. Even many in the medical profession are more angry than compassionate now because the filling up of the hospitals could have been prevented. Their compassion is now directed at children who are becoming ill but not so much the adults who should have received the vaccination.
Like many of you, I too am frustrated. I want my church life to return to what I considered normal. I want our church family to return to worship and other activities. I miss seeing so many folks. Yet I understand that some are reluctant to return because they do not feel safe.
My sense is that the tongue flapping is mostly negative. Negative talk just brings the hearer down and creates a low feeling I always had a policy in every church I served, and that policy was—before making a negative comment, the speaker must make two positive comments. That was difficult for one who was all primed to unload with the negative comments In fact, some found it difficult to come up with two positive comments before proceeding. It seems that we are surrounded by negativity on so many fronts. The passage from James indicates that it is not possible to tame the tongue.
If the tongue cannot be tamed, perhaps we might be reminded of just who we are. We are disciples of Jesus. We are to love the Lord our God with our entire being. We are people who care about one another—health and safety. We have a responsibility to do all we can do to keep one another safe, Yes, we are tired of COVID and the regulations we may even be angry. We have two choices—we can either make the situation better or make it worse. How is it with your tongue?
Worship Time Change: Beginning Sunday, 12 September 2021, we will have one worship service in the main sanctuary at 10:00 am. It is our hope that we will be able to schedule Christian Education experiences for adults and children at 9:00 am soon. When the Chancel Choir can begin singing again, the Sunday choir rehearsal will be at 8:45 am. We know that the early worship service was meaningful to folks. However, over the years as our membership and worship attendance has decreased, our numbers no longer support two worship experiences on Sunday morning.
Prayer: Please keep Rev. Hadley in your daily prayers as she continues her recovery from her August 20th surgery. We are hopeful that she will be able to resume her pastoral responsibilities later this month. Until then, Rev. Knopp, our Pastor Emeritus, will continue to lead worship and be available for emergencies. Important Financial Update: Summer is always a financial struggle for our church. As we are entering the fall and the programming year, it is very important that we as a church understand the financial picture of where we are as a church. There is no question that COVID, the shut-down during most of 2020, getting out of the habit of attending worship have contributed to lower financial support. At the end of worship on September 19th, the finance ministry will share a financial update with those present. Please make an extra effort to be in attendance for worship on that Sunday and for the update.