As children our parents lied to us. Not that they were seeking to be devious or trying to twist our world in some perverse way. In fact I think they probably lied to try and build our character, they lied to try and give us some courage and endurance that we would need in this life of ours. But still they lied. In fact some of you may have lied to your own children, it’s a great lie that we hand down from generation to generation, we’ve even made it into a little rhyme and it goes like this, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but word will never hurt me.”
Such a rhyme makes it seem as if words don’t do things, they are harmless, they are spoken without physical ramifications. But it’s simply not true, in fact we know that this is a lie at the very moment we speak it to our children because it is usually said to try to remedy a hurt caused by words. Words have just hurt them and we say that words cannot hurt them. Now people may say, well sure words hurt but they don’t hurt like getting hit with stick and stones hurt, ah but I think we know better. In fact it is interesting that we say this to children but not to adults. Could you imagine trying to console a friend whose husband has just said that he no longer loves her by saying, “Hey don’t worry, sticks and stones may break you bones but words will never hurt?”
Words are powerful, they do things, they can hurt but that can heal too, they can give hope and joy. Word’s when they are formed into promises can be some of the most precious treasures that we have. Think of the words spoken on a wedding day, “To have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part.” These are promises, promises that fill people with hope and expectation. They give meaning and purpose to two lives that become one. The whole future of a newlywed couple is tied up in those words of promise. Now sure if the promises are broken there is great pain and suffering that comes with it, but if they are kept why such words of promise are more resilient than sticks and stones.
We are people of a promise; we are people of the promise. For the whole hope of the Christian faith is found in a great promise of our God; a promise of a new heavens and a new earth, a promise that our Lord Jesus Christ will return and with him bring the undoing of this vale of tears. In his coming we will find a new life of perfect sainthood, a life without sorrow or shame or tears or even death. In fact the central promise of our Lord’s return is that even the dead will rise from the grave. So St. Paul reminds us, “We do not want you to be uninformed, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, tough Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep” (1 Thess. 4:13-14). This promise binds our lives together in hope and anticipation and it is this promise that has been placed in your mouths to proclaim to one another.