By Rev. Shelly G. Klingensmith
When I was a student at Seminary, I was assigned to a congregation as a student pastor. One afternoon I received an email from the pastor, asking me to visit a parishioner, Mr. Leary, who was in the hospital. So, after classes and work, I made my way to the hospital. I had a short visit with Mr. Leary; he seemed to be in high spirits as he should be released the next day, we prayed and I left. The visit was a success, all was well and everyone was happy……….or so I thought.
Did you ever have something you wanted to tell someone, but didn’t know the right words to say? When I got in my car to travel home after the hospital visit a reflection in the rear view mirror caught my eye.… That’s when I noticed “IT”. “IT” was there during my entire visit in the hospital, and nobody told me. You see, prior to the hospital visit, I changed my clothes into business attire. It had been a long day, and I thought my hair needed a little fluff. I didn’t have time to use a curling on my hair, so, I put one of those ‘Velcro’ rollers in my hair, <<pause>> You know the kind that stay put, <<pause>> no matter what. I thought, I could remove it prior to the visit. <<pause>> However!!! Can you tell where I’m going with this? <<pause>> You guessed it!! <<pause>> I wore that curler in my hair, during my entire hospital visit. And nobody said ‘a thing’. “The lady at the information desk; <<pause>> the people in the elevator; <<pause>> the nurse at the station; <<pause>> Mr. Leary or his seven family members. After the room visit, I checked out the gift shop and the cafeteria. <<pause>> Do you think they said anything? Nooooo, <heavy sigh>, <pause>
I was somewhat amused and embarrassed at myself to say the least.
Did you ever have something you wanted to tell someone, but didn’t know the right words to say? I’m sure all of those people in the hospital wanted to say something, but didn’t know how….. I can just imagine the conversation:
There’s the silent, sign language approach: ”gesture and point to my head”.
There’s the shy, covert approach: “Uh, lady, Uh, hmm, you have a, um, (cough) curler in your hair”, or There’s the straight forward, bluntly approach:
“Did you know there’s a curler in your hair”?
We have all been there, either on the “telling side” or the “receiving side” of the conversation: What about other instances: you need a Kleenex,……
Ladies, how about: your dress is caught in your panty hose, <<pause>> and Gentlemen, lets not forget about your barn doors, <<pause>> What about: you need a breathe mint, you have something in your teeth or my favorite, did you use deodorant today? <<pause>> How do you start those conversations? Suddenly our body language speaks louder than words. We become shy, unable to speak and use gestures or subliminal messages, like swiping your nose, or blowing your nose, or the list goes on. Sometimes it’s hard to get those words out.
Did you ever have something you wanted to tell someone, but didn’t know the right words to say? How do you find the courage and the words to say what’s on your mind? It’s never easy telling someone…<<pause>> “something” that needs to be said, that could, easily, cause embarrassment to you and the other person. Where do the words come from?
As an example, in today’s lesson, thankfully we have Paul as a guide in these awkward situations. Paul wrote to the Roman Christians to enlighten and encourage their faith. The new believers were confused because the gospel message was being twisted and distorted. Some unwise people were telling them that believing in Jesus wasn’t enough; His dying and rising on the cross was not enough to make them right with God. They said people could only be made right with God by doing good things, or by “works”.
So Paul needed to open a dialogue with the faithful Romans to gain their trust and rebuild their knowledge and hope in the true Gospel message. But where to begin, how do you start that conversation? With God’s grace and peace. Paul opens the letter to the Romans declaring: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”. He put the baby Christians at ease, reminding them what comes from God: Grace and Peace. Then he moved into talking about his message. Now, there is no doubt: Paul was not shy, or a man of “few words”. He was on a mission, and knew what needed to be said. Using simple words he spoke his mind: regardless of causing embarrassment, or hurt feelings. Let’s look at what Paul said to those baby Christians. It’s in your bulletin, beginning with verse 23, if you want to read along: Paul said: “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; BUT, here’s the good news: They are now justified by HIS GRACE AS A GIFT, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
Paul reminded the Romans that all are guilty of sin, and are unworthy of God’s blessings. However, because Jesus was the Christ, and died on the cross in exchange for our sins, we are justified, or made right with God.
By God’s grace-filled gift, all are made right with God. We need to hear the message of justification, because we need to understand how we are made right with God. Working to earn brownie points with God is bogus. We can’t earn our way into heaven. Salvation isn’t a paycheck. In this instant we can only stand before the Almighty, in quiet awe; because we are sinful and completely fail Him. So, how can WE earn God’s grace? What do WE do? What can WE do? NOTHING!. We can do nothing to be made right with God. That’s the beauty of God’s grace, God does everything. Through faith in Jesus Christ and God’s wonderful gift of grace we have been made right before Him, and have peace with our Creator.
Did you ever have something you wanted to tell someone, but didn’t know the right words to say? Today is Reformation Sunday, and we celebrate the life and actions of Martin Luther. Unhappy with the practices and abuses of the Catholic Church, Luther wanted to reform the church. He didn’t know how to start the conversation, but he found the WORDS, and with paper in one hand and nails in the other Luther, nailed his Ninety-five theses to the door of the Wittenberg chapel. At the heart of the reform movement was the Gospel, the Good News that: “by grace through faith we are justified.” Luther knew that pointing out the flaws of the Church could cause embarrassment, but the words needed to be said.
Did you ever have something you wanted to tell someone, but didn’t know the right words to say? I do. How do I start the conversation with you, like Paul and Martin Luther…that God loves you, and by HIS GRACEFILLED GIFT we are justified? How do I begin to explain the Gospel message, that Jesus Christ died on a Cross for you? Where do the words come from, that allows you to understand that our God is full of love and forgiveness? <hold up the Bible>, Here, the Bible, the Word of God, The Words come from here.
Did you ever have something you wanted to tell someone, but didn’t know the right words to say? I hope so. Like Paul and Martin Luther we are challenged to tell other people about God’s love and gift of grace. People won’t know there’s hope unless we share the good news with them. Talking about our faith can be very difficult sometimes; even embarrassing. But we have the words found right here in this book to help us explain our faith. Sometime this week I want you to tell someone about your faith, even if its someone you already know. Find the courage to say where your grace comes from. Discover how passionate you are for God’s love and share that news with someone else. I guarantee you, the right words will come. AMEN.
May you experience God’s peace and grace as you find the courage to share your faith with others.
Copyright 2008, Shelly G. Klingensmith. Used by permission.