LENTEN DEVOTION for Wednesday, February 28



Help me, O God, be silent until my speech is edifying. May I measure my words, this day, that I might only speak truth.


It was said of Abba Agathon that for three years he lived with a stone in his mouth, until he had learned to keep silent.

James says, "From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so." (3:10) 


According to the creation story of the Hebrew Bible, God creates the universe from speech. God said, "Let there be light," and light there was (Genesis 1:3 ff.). John the gospel writer called Jesus "the Word" because God spoke through Jesus. Jesus is God's creative speech to the world.

Speech is creative. Words are meant to create. By our language, we create worlds of meaning. The novelist makes whole new worlds out of combinations of letters. The poet elicits emotion from an arrangement of utterances. Three simple words --"I love you"-- make the world of a difference. With our words, we create endless possibilities.

And yet, our words are ever so destructive. They have the power to tear someone down and apart. Words, poorly-timed and ill-intended, tear families apart. Our speech can demean and defeat others. Words can strip a person of worth.

Somewhere in between, our speech is idle. We waste our words. We chat and chatter and say nothing worthwhile at all. While babbling might not be destructive, it leaves no room for creation. Only in silence do good words generate.

Abba Agathon silenced himself, in part, because he knew how destructive and wasteful our words can be. Anyone who wishes to say anything worthwhile must be accustomed to and comfortable with silence. There is a generative quality about the quiet. The more we hold back our mean remarks and needless comments, as if there were a stone in the mouth, the more meaningful our words will be when they come forth.

This day, commit to quietude. Let only what is edifying and creative come out of your mouth. Choose your words wisely, knowing that they can make a new world possible. 


Sit in silence for 5 minutes. Breathe. Say nothing to God, knowing that God will make something out of your silence.       

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