Just Words

“Words are, in my not so humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic, capable of inflicting injury and remedying it.” –  Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore

Today I stood before the doors of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany where words changed the world. In 1517 a monk named Martin Luther nailed 95 points of Church critique to the old wooden doors, an invitation to his fellow scholars to discuss needed reform. Of course, those words went viral (thanks to the printing press) and fanned the flames of growing discontent in Germany and beyond. And the world has never been the same.

Like so many words, Luther’s words both injured and healed. His emphasis on grace healed many hearts broken by sin and guilt. But Luther’s words regarding our Catholic and Jewish brothers and sisters left wounds that are still healing. Until this trip I was not aware that Adolf Hitler appealed to Luther’s ugly, divisive words about Jews to justify his horrific crimes against humanity.

Just words? Hardly. Your words and mine have the power to injure and to heal, to bless and to curse. It’s no wonder the ancient Hebrews so revered the sacred power of words. Perhaps we should too. How will you use your words today? Know that they have the power to change a life – and God’s world – for better or for worse.

And join me in giving thanks for these powerful words loved and emphasized by Brother Martin:

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life. – Ephesians 2:8-10

Jeff Marian serves as lead pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN.

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