Salem Lutheran Church

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Mind Your Tongue

This Sunday, June 9, is Pentecost Sunday. In the story of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-21), we are told that all the disciples were together that day, “And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability” (Acts 2:2-4).

Every year when I read this story about the tongues of fire and the creation of the Church, I am reminded of an ancient African folktale. There was a tribal king who told his chef to go into the market and find the best piece of meat he could find and make it for dinner. So the chef went out and found the best meat he could find and prepared it for dinner. The king loved it and asked what kind of meat it was. The chef said, “It is tongue, Sire.” The king was amazed and said, “Who knew that the tongue could be so flavorful, so rich and savory in taste!”.

The next day, the king told the chef to go and find the absolute worst piece of meat and prepare it for dinner so he would know what something bad tasted like. So the chef did as he was instructed, and when the king tasted the meat, it was truly awful, and he asked the chef, “What is this?”. The chef responded, “It is tongue, Sire!”.

“Tongue,” said the king, “but didn’t I have tongue yesterday that was delicious and delicate?” “Yes,” said the chef. “You know as well as I, Sire, that the tongue can be used to bring great delight and can inspire imagination and creativity, compassion, healing, and peace, or it can be used to bring about cruelty and divisiveness, and can bring hate and poison to everything around it. We must always be careful to be the master of the tongue.”

When God sent the Holy Spirit to birth God’s church on that Day of Pentecost over 2,000 years ago, God empowered his followers to go and speak the Gospel to the world. But all too often the Church has used its tongues not to inspire, or to heal, or to bring about peace, but we in the church often use our tongues to speak cruel words, to bring divisiveness, and even war.

My prayer this week as we prepare to enter into the long Season after Pentecost is that we, as individuals and as a faith community, might be ever mindful of how we use our tongues. When we speak, do we speak with love and kindness, compassion and healing, or do our words bring about divisiveness, hate, and cruelty? May we use our tongues to fulfill the command our Lord gave us on the night before he was betrayed, “Love each other, as I have loved you.”

Shalom, Pr. Dave


Tags: Weekly Word