In my line of work, one of the occupational hazards that we inflict on others is an over-employment of words. Why use one when five will do? Why use five when ten will do? Why speak for fifteen minutes if they’ll give you twenty? And why not try to squeeze the twenty into twenty-two? (And always use parentheses – they allow you to slip in asides without anyone noticing!)
One of the most dangerous places to be on the planet is between a preacher and a microphone!
So, encouraging others to choose just one word may seem a bit…hypocritical at best, downright disingenuous at worse (see, here I go). But bear with me – and offer me the benefit of the doubt.
When William and I began planning a January sermon series, we discussed ways to begin the New Year that would help us all focus our year. William suggested that we encourage everyone to choose just one thing for their focus this year: one word, one song, one fruit of the Spirit, one story, one prayer. What would it look like, he wondered succinctly, if we encouraged each member of the church to focus? He went on to tell me that the idea was based on a ministry created by Mike Ashcraft, the pastor of Port City Community Church in Wilmington, who annually encourages the members of his church to choose one word for their focus for the year rather than making a long list of resolutions.
William’s suggestion set off fireworks for me as I had a “one word” experience this past year and didn’t even know that’s what I was doing (I’ll tell you more about that Sunday – this is what we call “the teaser”).
The long and the short of it (and you’d prefer the short) is that’s what we decided to do. Beginning this Sunday, we’ll talk about focus in our spiritual lives. This week, we will reflect on words, how they shape us, how they surround us, and what it might look like to live this year with one word at the center of our prayer life and spiritual journey. We’ll talk about ways to choose a word and offer you some suggestions.
Ours is a faith that finds its traction in words. Genesis reminds us (1:1-5) that the world came into being through divine speech, through a word. John poetically recounts that same Word becoming flesh and living among us. We are a people and a faith of words. Join us Sunday as we all choose one.
That’s all for now. I’ll have a microphone Sunday and will probably have more to say!
Grace and peace. rcf