Wooden cross in the Good Shepherd Chapel



God’s Powerful Word

Lent 2018

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:1

After completing my thesis about the work of a South African playwright named Athol Fugard, I was blessed to be able to direct the Northwest premiere of his play My Children, My Africa. In the play, a dedicated teacher named Mr. M struggles to educate two promising students in spite of the limits imposed upon him by apartheid. In the heat of an argument about how best to effect political and societal change, Mr. M cries to his intemperate student, Thami:

Be careful, Thami! Don't scorn words. They are sacred! ...Stones and petrol bombs can't get inside those armored cars. Words can.

This speech drew me to the play, because these words ring out with a resonance beyond that intended by Fugard, and beyond the immediate sin of apartheid. What Mr. M declared is true: Our words can pursue justice, heal wounds, and stir societal movements. But Mr. M's insight was closer to the mark than he realized. Some words truly are sacred. The words spoken by our living God can change reality, indeed, create reality.

When God says, “Your sins are forgiven,” the sins are wiped away as if they never existed. When God says, “Follow me,” he creates a disciple. When God calls us “his children,” he pulls us back into full relationship with him.

But God does not only speak these words—he is the Word. As Martin Luther explains in his sermon on John, “Now we must open wide our hearts and understanding, so as to look upon these words not as the insignificant, perishable words of man, but think of them as being as great as he is who speaks them. It is a Word which he speaks of himself, which remains in him, and is never separated from him.” Or, as more fully expressed in John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

During this Lenten season, listen carefully to the sacred words of Scripture. Remember that the words God uses to create our faith, declare our justification, and shower us with grace are the same as the Word which was made flesh, paid the price for our sins and spoke a new reality,

“Today you will be with me in Paradise.”

These words—this Word—can get inside even the most sinful, hardened heart such as yours and mine. Praise God!

Dr. Heather Halm Stueve '88
Concordia University Education Network (CUEnet)

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