Sunday, August 7, 2016
Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost

Isaiah 1:1, 10-20
Genesis 15:1-6
Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16
Luke 12:32-40

“By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible.” (Hebrews 11:3, NRSV)

My first published piece of writing was a poem about my dog Bubblegum. It was printed in the local paper in Springfield, Missouri when I was six. I think I’ve believed ever since that words are important! Words shaped my education: junior high writing contests, meeting Garrison Keillor when I was a high school senior, earning a degree in journalism, interning at Southern Living. (Okay, that one was also about pie–I worked in the Foods department!) Back then I didn’t even imagine how words would come to matter to me as they also shaped my calling: blogging, devote-ing, and even preaching. When I wrote that poem about Bubblegum, I had no idea just how important words are.

Words brought creation into being. Not published in the Sunday paper or printed into a cartoon bubble hovering over God’s head or even tweeted in all caps, but whispered into the void, ruffling the stillness with invisible waves of sound. The unseen breath was shaped in the mouth of God, rolled over the divine teeth and tongue into consonants and vowels, and from it came land and seas and Milky Ways and egret and dolphin and loggerback turtle and him and her and them together. “What is seen was made from things that are not visible.” Words are important: they make life.

Words bring promise to fruition. Already ancient, Abraham clung to the words of Yahweh: “Go.” “Stars.” “Son.” “Don’t laugh!” Spent his lifetime looking at the skies, replaying those words again and again in his mind, wondering not if, but when. Old Man Abraham, “as good as dead” (Heb. 11:12) held newborn life in his arms, and saw reflections of the galaxies in his son’s eyes. Abraham hinged his life on God’s faithfulness to turn words into generations, even when it meant taking his own flesh-and-bone promise up to the mountain, with a knife in his belt. Words are important: they secure futures.

Words bring us home. We don’t say: “This place is ours,” but: “We’re just passing through.” Not: “May I see your I.D.?” but: “I’m a visitor here, myself.” Not: “No Trespassing,” but: “Come along!” “For people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.” (Heb. 11:14) God is even now preparing a city for people who know that this “You Are Here” is not their Home. Speaking turns into seeking, so we say it aloud until it becomes the truth, until we’ve forgotten about property values and picked up a map. Words are important: they pave the Way.

Look: all around us are witnesses, standing in for the unseen words that have echoed since the beginning. By these words we are made. By these words we are called. By these words we are sent.

By faith, these invisible words are seen.

Nikki Finkelstein-Blair is an ordained Baptist minister, at-home mom, and military spouse living in South Carolina. She blogs at One Faithful Step.