‘.. my word that goes out from my mouth; shall not return to me empty, it shall accomplish that which I purpose and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.’ Is 55: 11
This morning the postman delivered a sales catalogue: it happens quite often; I have a rack full.
Internet shopping is booming, shops are closed, some for ever. Catalogues cost money to print and post; all the information they contain is on-line. From cars to coffee, when I want something new, the first place I look is on-line. The internet effectively holds the world’s largest catalogue; yet for all that I still turn to the printed page; and I’m not alone. In these dull, wet, housebound days; browsing a glossy catalogue can provide a pleasant distraction. They hold out hope of another life, one to look forward to.
People collect catalogues. Nostalgia apart, catalogues can offer an intriguing insight into the lives of our ancestors. But a sales catalogue is not intended for the magazine rack, nor for some future historian; it is intended to reach out and speak to us, to influence our behaviour, now. It may well build on the past, but its aim is for the present, and the future; it has only earned its keep when I buy; then it has accomplished its purpose.
In the beginning was The Word, in that word was life ……, and The Word said, ‘Let there be light’ and what follows is life. (Extracts Genesis 1:3; John 1:1)
We live in a world of words; spoken, printed, broadcast; peaceful, violent, words for every occasion and for none. We become adept at filtering words out. A man hears what he wants to hear, and disregards the rest. Or maybe we just hear what we expect to hear. When God said ‘My Word will not return to me empty’, he went on to say ‘You Shall go out in joy and be led back in peace’ (Isaiah 55: 12) but did we hear?
Sometimes, we simply long for words we do not hear; words like ‘you’re free’, ‘I love you – just as you are.’ Maybe we have forgotten, maybe we never knew The Word. The Bible looks imposing on the shelf, the history is fascinating, future promises lighten up a wet and windy lockdown, but what do we hear? Has this Word accomplished its purpose, have I bought Life?
Rev Philip Payne
24 January 21
The Pew Sheet for 24th January can be found in Downloads