The Rt. Rev. James Tengatenga Reflects on Day 40

Leviticus 10–12, Psalm 34, Mark 7

Yesterday it was “no haggis” and “no uwende” (a special dish of blood, belly fat, and organs that those who slaughter animals, in some of our cultures, boil and eat while they skin and quarter the carcass), but today the list has grown long. What’s with food anyway? All over the world there are all sorts of prohibitions of one food or another. Delicacies in one part of the world make some on the other side of the globe feel queasy. Whole foods, organic foods, vegetarian, vegan—the list goes on. We seem to be obsessed with food and the kinds of food we eat.

Well-being and wholeness and (dare I think it) holiness are closely connected. God cares about what we stuff ourselves with, but then Jesus comes along and seems to say that that is not the case. As he does so often, Jesus, in Mark 7, raises the stakes. It’s not just the food or what we stuff ourselves with that matters. It’s what comes out of us that matters: it’s what we harbor in our minds and hearts, what we say. Words people use say a lot about them. Language is a big deal in our age, to the degree that sometimes we go overboard and prize political correctness above all else. We can either build people up or destroy them by our words. God created through the spoken word; Jesus is the Word Incarnate. I suppose it is time to mind my p’s and q’s!

QUESTIONS

Search through the Bible for the use of the words “word,” “words,” and “speech” and find out what they mean and how they are used. It may also be helpful to look for “curse,” “blessing,” and even the concept of naming.

Apart from hate speech, in what way do words dehumanize people?

PRAYER

Only say a word, O Lord, and I shall be healed! Amen.

O Incarnate Word, grant by your gracious Spirit that I may speak a blessing to all I meet today and always, so that I may please you and in the life to come enter into your kingdom where you, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, live and reign forever. Amen.

-The Rt. Rev. James Tengatenga
Bishop of Southern Malawi
Blantyre, Malawi