First let me start with a great big thank you to all of you! Together we have come through our first Advent and Christmas season and a busy start to the New Year. Your kind words and willingness to lend a hand or give advice were invaluable. I felt that everything went smoothly and really enjoyed the season.
At our Covenanting Service last Sunday, we celebrated the official recognition of our new ministry together. It was wonderful to share the day with you and so many friends from Halton and Living Waters Presbyteries, with Jackie Burnie and Harry Oussoren and other friends - old and new. The music was uplifting, the leadership from Orville James and Debra Schneider was inspiring, the whole service was meaningful, and the reception afterwards - well, you went over the top!
A special thank you once again to the members of your Joint Search Committee who put in years of work and commitment. Thank you one and all!
I am tired. I don't know about you, but I am weary of hate-filled rhetoric. I am worn out by public figures who use language that should result in having their mouths washed with soap. I am exhausted when exaggeration and name calling and outright lies replace genuine dialogue and debate. I am fed up by other people who defend this as an expression of free speech. Words matter.
I guess it is an old-fashioned principle that if we can't say something nice we shouldn't speak at all, but wouldn't it be nice if we could all try to live that way?
I know that words matter, that denigrating human beings and their homelands is bad, period. I cannot be the only one tired of words that are used to belittle other people, to bully other people, to twist the truth. Words matter, language matters, manners matter and holding one's self to a higher standard matters.
Anyone in public service, whether ministry, or teaching, or government is held to a higher standard of behavior and we should be. We are called to be leaders, we are called to thoughtful communication. That doesn't mean we have to agree with everyone. It doesn't mean there cannot be deeply held beliefs that are divisive. It doesn't mean there can't be heated argument, debate and disagreement. But respect for one another has to remain.
Words matter. Using offensive language, making insulting and derogatory comments about other human beings is unacceptable for anyone. I would invite all of us to re-think how we behave in private and in public. What we say can make a difference for good or ill, for peace or violence, for what is right and what is wrong.
At our Covenanting Service last Sunday, Kathy Andres read a passage from the book of Micah:
"And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice,
and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?"
My words matter, as do all of ours. And it isn't enough to moderate our own words. We are challenged to stand up against hatred, against racism, against any language that is used to put down, bully or insult other human beings regardless of their race, their age, their nationality, their gender, their orientation, their religion. I, we, can do better than this. Let us choose justice, let us choose kindness, let us choose a higher road and a higher standard for our behavior.