Soul Food: 'A Summer Prayer'
“Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear.” --Ephesians 4:29
Summer is for building up. Apples and pumpkins and middle school kids grow in the sun. A little rain makes bamboo look like a teenager. We are God’s partners in receiving the fruit of being built up by grace, God’s Spirit, and the people of God who grace our lives. Our mission is to build people, build leaders, build love, and build networks that depend on each other no matter where we stand, or however we may differ.
The work of Jesus was salvific. Jesus saves. The word we render, ‘salvation,’ in scripture means deliverance, rescue, wholeness, healing, that is present and eternal, and all of it arrives as a gift. Ephesians 2:8 says this is not of our own doing but a gift from God. In the psalms our healing is not complete until it is lived in community or evidenced ‘in the congregation’ (Ps.111:1).
We are here to receive wholeness and live God’s Shalom. We are sent as followers of Jesus with healing on our lips and with the Shalom that is the work of our hands.
Again, Ephesians holds up a mirror in 4:29: “Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear.”
There is need not to destroy. There is need not to criticize. There is need to build up. There is need to respect. There is need to listen and offer people the sacrament of being heard. There is need to heal with our words. There is need to comfort the wounded and grieving.
Jesus says we are a city on a hill. Isaiah calls us a light to the nations. People see how close our behavior matches our words.
The noble way of speaking kindness to one another, exalting one another in the Lord, and putting first one another's callings should be our priority and daily practice.
We are a children of light, belonging to the light of the world. One cannot follow darkness very far. I pray God will help us practice the light again in our wishes, prayers, praise, and worship.
I pray we put aside the voices of separation and the practice of erecting walls in the name of Jesus and come home to being people of Jesus who love one another, build up together, and exalt the glory of God. Difference teaches us of the diversity of God. May we pray:
“Lord, give us a heart as vast as your universe. Because the church is yours, make us all humble and passionate servants who love you first. Make us your healing ark capable of saving the world, in the name of Jesus. Amen.”
Bishop Hee-Soo Jung, PhD.
Bishop Hee-Soo Jung has served as resident bishop of the Wisconsin Annual Conference since September of 2012. Prior to leading the Wisconsin Conference UMC, Bishop Jung served eight years as bishop of the Northern Illinois Conference (Chicago area).