Notes from Jan

Table Talk in Troubling Times

June 28, 2024

Well, that was a “mell of a hess”, as my Daddy used to say, now and then. And last night’s debate qualified, from my perspective. So I can imagine that where two or more gather, folks are talking about a “mell of a hess.” Like bullets, words flew during The Debate between Biden and Trump, spreading lies, fear, confusion and hatred.

Today’s Boston Globe shouted: “Face to Face, a War of Words.” And the headline was all I could bear to read. Why? I still feel pummeled and exhausted from listening, ducking and praying during last night’s debate. Words matter. Theirs. Ours. And when the word battle ended, I hurt for our country. God only knows where we rank, whether the best or worst. But for sure, the debate didn’t enhance the image of our nation or distinguish either debater. Civility lost.

For sure, neither candidate brought us closer together. Nor did they demonstrate how to differ, while being civil. Are we becoming a nation where bullies reign: YELLING, whining, threatening, accusing, shaming, belittling, and lying to look good without being good? In Congress? The Church? Our families?

Like I wrote earlier, words matter. Yesterday Philip Yancey in Grace Notes wrote, that unlike words from his upbringing, he learned there are reasoned, calm voices our there. And it came through reading the works of C.S. Lewis, G.K, Chesterton and Saint Augustine. Their words” leapt across time to convince me that somewhere Christians lived who knew grace as well as law, love as well as judgment, reason as well as passion.”

And then, this morning, weary of words, this truth came to me, a word I most needed from The Bible. “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish.” (John 1:14, The Message)

So, apparently, words matter so much God identifies as the Word. In John 1:1, NLT, we read the following: “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Now, for sure, I’m no biblical scholar, but I get God cares about words. And they matter so much that when God’s Son, Jesus, showed up, he became The Word with a face.

Well, I’m getting way over my head. So I’ll jump in with a practical application. While it’s easier to write about, it’s harder to do. If Jesus lives “in the neighborhood”, through those of us who call ourselves Christians, then it should show in our words, our talk around our tables. So, as the rhetoric intensifies over these months until the November election, I pray we’ll guard our tongues. There are times to speak out, but we must always make time to listen.

We don’t want to be like the little kid who told his Mama he wasn’t going to go to Sunday School any more. When she asked why he said, ‘I already know more than I do.”

Lord, have mercy on us, our nation, and this hurting world. And lets stay at the table with words that bring life and light. Why? Well, as an old song says, “brighten the corner where you are.” A little light, like a little love, goes a long way.

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  • Reply shelly moran June 28, 2024 at 12:32 pm

    Amen, Jan! Oh my how abysmal was that debate… I kept saying to myself, these are the leaders of our country.? What a horrendous representation. But God knows the outcome. Thank you for the reminder that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. God’s Word is truth……not man’s. We need to trust Him.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 28, 2024 at 1:08 pm

      Well, it was a night to be reminded that words matter., dear Shelly But more than words, character reveals the source and spirit behind the words. And in a culture of sound bites and fascination with personality over character, we have a challenge to try to discern the character of the person behind the words. Truth versus lies. And to be sure we make use of our minds and ears more than our mouths. While only God really knows the heart, there are clues.

  • Reply Dale June 28, 2024 at 2:03 pm

    Thanks Jan,
    At the American Bible Society, the phrase was “Words matter and God’s Word matters most.” I love to read and there are many biblically consistent writings to read. I try to remember, however, that none are the inspired word of God and the truth by which all other thoughts should be compared. This is not a criticism, but it does help me remember what my standard should be. Blessings dear friend, Dale

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 29, 2024 at 10:43 am

      Amen! However, God is predictably unpredictable and finds many ways to speak to us., but you know this. For me, I hear God speak through books, nature, sermons, and sometimes while just sitting and staring at the ocean. And in conversations, including those with you, my brother-friend.

  • Reply Wendy June 28, 2024 at 4:08 pm

    I couldn’t hardly bear it last night. Through most of it I just closed my eyes and prayed.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 29, 2024 at 10:49 am

      And praying is the BEST RESPONSE. Next is voting. But I’ll probably write about that another time before November rolls around dear Wendy. And don’t despair. God is well aware of what’s going on. And we all have the same Enemy. And no matter how we feel, it is not each other. Lies are the preferred weapon of mass destruction for the Enemy. Truth is God’s!

  • Reply Valerie mccoy June 30, 2024 at 11:52 am

    Thanks my friend for the ‘truth’ in your writing.
    The Lord knew what my Greek, expressive response would be, so He quickly delivered my tongue with the beginning words of a Lenten hymn;
    “Let all flesh keep silent,
    and with fear and trembling
    heart, ponder nothing earthly
    The ache of my tears, however, reconfirmed the sacredness of “the One who is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.”

    Kyrie Eleison

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 30, 2024 at 6:26 pm

      Amen!, This is not the time to wring our hands but to fold them in prayer and trust the One who sees and knows all. And as Jud once told me,when I stood in front of a full length mirror, looking like a mess, “Don’t believe everything you see!” Or hear.

  • Reply Maggie Wallem Rowe June 30, 2024 at 5:42 pm

    Jan, your late pastor-daddy has taught me a great new phrase for these troubled times: a mell of a hess. YES! One commentator summoned Thursday’s debate in a phrase: the con man vs. the old man. I am respectful of seniors in many roles – being over 70 myself – but a time comes when the best thing one can do is step aside when we are simply no longer capable of what we once were. And I’m praying that the Grand Old Party can find a candidate with character who is not a convicted felon. As one billboard says in our area, ‘JESUS is our only hope in 2024!”

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 30, 2024 at 6:32 pm

      When all’s said and done, dear Maggie, I’ll take an old man over a con man. And any leader is strengthened or limited by the people surrounding them, no matter what their age. It is, as I wrote to Valerie in the above response, not a time to wring our hands but to fold them in prayer. This may be too big for us to wrap our heads around, but not for God. Lord, have mercy. And, thankfully, God is mercy-full.

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