SERMON TITLE: “A Good Word Begins with a Blessing”
SERMON TEXT: Matthew 5:1-12
PREACHER: Rev. Kim James
OCCASION: August 6, 2017, at First UMC
The other day, I heard a radio interview of a guy who works for the Motion Picture Association of America. They’re the organization that puts ratings on movies. They decide if the content of a movie warrants a G, PG, PG-13, or an R rating. As well as crude, violent, or sexual images, the Motion Picture Association also considers what language is used. The host of the radio program asked his guest if the ratings standards have changed over the years. Are certain things now allowed in a PG-13 movie, for example, that used to warrant an R? Yes, the man said. As our society is becoming more accustomed to seeing and hearing vulgarity, movie ratings criteria have shifted as well.
Movies aside, all we have to do is listen to the news to realize that our American culture has become much more coarse. What used to be done in private is now being done in public. What used to be merely suggested is now spoken aloud. What used to be condemned as uncivil is now cheered by some as “unguarded” and “authentic.” Our public discourse has become a lot edgier and rough.
During this month of August, I want to challenge some of that. I don’t think we who are Christians have to accept that “brash is better” or that “telling it like we feel it” is somehow heroic, without regard to whom we hurt or what might be the actual truth.
We of the Judeo-Christian tradition have always believed that God’s word and our words are sacred. In fact, many of us can quote the important opening verse of John’s Gospel that tells us, “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God.” We also believe that God’s-word-who-became-flesh had some important things to say about how we should speak with one another. So, beginning today and continuing throughout this month, I’m going to preach a series of sermons on what a good word is and does. These sermons will be based on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter 5. Today, as we start with the Beatitudes, I invite you to see that a good word begins with a blessing.