This is my first letter as a retired minister. At first, I was not sure what to write about because I said all my farewells and thank yous in my previous letter. I did not want to write a load of gobbledygook, but then I thought, why not?
Gobbledygook is a fun word to say. It was coined by Maury Maverick, a politician from Texas in the United States of America. During the Second World War, he wrote, “Be short and use plain language… Stay off gobbledygook language.” By this, he meant avoid using long, pompous and vague words when writing or speaking. He likened this to a turkey, “always gobbledygobbling and strutting with ridiculous pomposity.”
I am writing this having just preached my last sermon as your minister. One of the readings, James 3:1-12, spoke about taming the tongue. I asked Hazel to record the sermon using a mobile phone app called Otter, so that we could put it on our website. The app records verbal speech and types it up for us, which in the past has saved us a lot of time. Unfortunately, on this occasion, Hazel was sat slightly too far away from me to pick up everything I said. So, this resulted, quite frankly, in a lot of gobbledygook!
At the beginning of my sermon, I gave a lovely description of the human tongue, but this is what the app thought I said:
“In your talent you have to both manage response, but each case only leaves up to one to two whoops that was fine. Switching over sweet, sour, salty, bitter and savoury, the size of the town is more sensitive than the middle of town. The colour of the town can tell us with an awkward level rose taste buds visible to the human eye.”
There, that is gobbledygook. What I was trying to say was we have to be very careful in what we say and how we say things. I used the mnemonic “THINK” as an aid to help us speak more wisely. We must ask ourselves if what we are saying is:
If it passes all five tests, then speak away.
With all speech, we have to make sure we say the right thing, with the right words, to the right people, in the right way, at the right time. So, it can be particularly difficult to say things without there being any misunderstandings. Wherever God leads me in this new chapter of my life, I must make sure that there are no misunderstandings.
So, what am I sure about? I am sure that God loves us. Despite difficult situations, God cares for us and God has a plan for us. I am sure that the use of friends, loved ones, and people who we meet, are all part of God looking after us. I am certain that God is our Lord and Saviour. I believe this because I am told so in the Bible, and the resurrection was God’s endorsement of the things Jesus did and said. I also believe due the response of the resurrection, as seen by the rapid growth of Christianity throughout the first century, which is recorded in the book of Acts as well as in history.
The word of Jesus is love spread via the Holy Spirit. Despite a huge number of attempts, the light of Jesus has not been put out. I believe because of the disciples, who died, on the whole, pretty traumatic deaths. This could not have happened if it was based on a lie. Finally, I believe in following James’s example in 2:18, in which he says, “Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.” We do not earn our way into heaven and eternal life. This is unique to Christianity. Eternal life is a free gift given by believing in Jesus, but our response to that belief has to be shown through good works: loving our neighbour, looking after the marginalised, helping the poor, being a voice to the voiceless etc. We do this as a response to God’s gift of grace and forgiveness.
So, no more misunderstandings, no more gobbledygook. Let’s give our testimonies about what Jesus has done to transform our lives.
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Rev'd Martin Wheadon