Pulse – June 2018 – Speaking Up

“I wish I’d told them how I felt.”
“I’ve been holding this inside me for so long.”
“Excuse me,…”

Words left unsaid and truth left unspoken — we struggle with this throughout our lives. Can recall a time when you wish you would have spoken up to someone important to you, words of kindness, words of encouragement? Or perhaps there was a moment when you witnessed injustice and you were afraid to say anything, you found yourself mute when you knew in your heart you could say something, do something.

I personally have known this struggle for much of my youth and adult life. I have struggled to believe that I had something to say at all. I have worked through a tendency to remain silent when I know I have an opinion to be shared, a word of insight to offer — I have worked to find value in my own voice and the contribution I can make to the world by using it. I’m a Type 9 on the Enneagram (a centuries-old personality mapping framework). Type 9’s are the “Peacemakers”, which often means we will choose to suppress our own voice out of fear that we may disrupt others or cause still waters to ripple.

This June and July at St. James, we’re going to explore what it means for God’s people to push against this tendency and learn to speak up. For 8 weeks, we’ll be looking at stories from the Old and New Testaments where God’s people learned to use their voices, interrupting the silencing forces of evil, oppression, power, and privilege. God’s people are called to speak goodness, truth, and beauty into the world and it is through these stories from Scripture that we will begin to get a picture of what it might look like for us to speak up in our time.

Speaking up requires wisdom, discernment, and caution. In the book of James (ch. 3), we hear that our tongues can start forest fires and need taming. Certainly, our words can get us into trouble, can cause harm, be misleading and wounding. We know this well in our country’s political climate — words are used to sow seeds of division and misdirection from what is true. But speaking up, as we will explore, can also be the source of liberation. We must learn the ways in which we speak up to name God’s love and purpose for humanity and creation. We speak up to help set people free. We speak up to share wisdom and participate in the coming of God’s reign, in which people flourish and live in the fullness of their image-bearing being.

Because of our political and social climate, the challenge to speak up is evermore important today. I am personally struck by how often I witness people in positions of authority or power in the world misusing their opportunity to speak truth and goodness. Either people speak untruths or the refuse to speak at all, therefore ceding their authority to the ones who will. As the church, we are called to be disciples of Christ and therefore sharers (“speakers”) of the Good News to the world. When we don’t speak up, when we don’t call out injustice or bear witness to goodness, the silence creates a vacuum into which evil rushes — filling the silence with lies and hatred.

This summer, I want to invite you to explore the silence in hopes that you might interrupt it. The invitation is to find spaces to speak up, to name the goodness of God that you see. I encourage you to not let words go unspoken, love unshared, silence uninterrupted.

Grace and peace,

Pastor Seth

©2018 St. James Presbyterian Church