Ancient church mothers and fathers often greeted one another with the phrase, “Give me a word.” This greeting led to the sharing of insights and wisdom. Today we continue this tradition with this monthly column.
By Rev. Mandy Sayers
Pastor, Covenant UMC, Gaithersburg
I think it’s a cruel twist of linguistic fate that the word for this month is “exercise.” Because by February, most New Year’s resolutions are shot and the gym parking lot is not quite so crowded.
However, February seems like a good month to be reminded that so much of what we think of as nouns in the Christian faith are verbs as we practice them.
Love, for example, is a noun and a verb. But in the church, it’s surely a verb first, an action word. And if it is
a verb, we can practice it. We can exercise it. We can build that muscle, with practice and dedication. We can get better at it.
I’ve often thought I’d change the sign outside my church to “Come to church and we’ll make you a better lover,” but I think my SPRC wouldn’t get my sense of humor.
Service comes from “serve,” a verb. We can get better at serving, through practice and prayer and dedication. Pray, heal, forgive, grow — all “action words” to a church whose mission is to “make disciples of Jesus Christ” and through them, “transform the world.” So much action, so many verbs.
I wonder if we could take a few nouns and make them into verbs, just for fun. Like a nominalization in reverse. For instance, we treat “faith” like a porcelain heirloom, like the good china we never use. What if faith were an action word? Something to be exercised and used.
What if we treated spiritual disciplines like the “exercises” they are? After all, the more we pray, the better we get at prayer. The more we search the Scriptures, the more we make our heart their home. The more we take the Lord’s Supper, the hungrier we get for it.
We can exercise all these muscles this month, as we start Lent on Valentine’s Day this year. The heart is a muscle too, you know.
Time to hit the spiritual gym and get serious about building a little muscle for Jesus. We have important things to do, so we need to be in shape. Work out your salvation. Put your faith to work. Exercise.