Speech and Wisdom: How much d'you know about your tongue? And, in particular, its length?
Judging by the Triangle congregation's responses at Sunday's service (14th May), not a lot! Answers ranged from 2cms to 20 metres. The truth is "just over 7cms", said Deacon Gill Atkinson, "or, for us golden oldies, about 3 inches".
A lecturer in Religious Studies at Bolton 6th Form College, Gill could easily have passed as an expert in Human Physiology, such was her knowledge of this multi-faceted organ, which enables us to lick, taste, swallow and, above all, speak.
In its last role, she told the children (and the rest of us) our tongue can get us into all sorts of trouble! To get us out of trouble, there are two key words for your tongue to use, "Sorry" and "Thank you". But, it's how we say these words that really matters. After such a sobering thought the hymn "Always remember, never forget' (70) perfectly fitted the bill.
Speech and the wise use of words is the theme in Chapter 3 of the Letter of James, the subject of our Bible study for May. This week's service was divided into three sections, each consisting of a reading followed by a short sermon. The first, James 3: 1-12 (combined with James 4: 11-12) is entitled 'Taming of the Tongue'. James describes the tongue as 'restless, full of evil' and points out that praise and cursing can come from the same mouth. "We all stumble and will be forgiven" said Gill, "the tongue is very small, but very effective. How do we use our words? To build up, or destroy?"
The second reading, James 3: 13-18, is called 'Two Kinds of Wisdom'. Here Gill described how James picks up on selfish ambition and the philosophy, 'the end justifies the means'. As an example of a better way, she reflected on the peaceful dismantling of Apartheid in South Africa. So much of the extraordinary story of the creation of the 'Rainbow Nation' was due to the selfless work of reconciliation by Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. "How Christian is that!", she commented. The hymn ... the great 8th Century Irish song, 'Be Thou my vision' (545).
'Submit yourselves to God' was the theme of the third, and final, section from James 3: 4-10. "Jesus", Gill said, "spoke a lot about living in the Kingdom" (living God's way). "James's message is that we should use all we have, all that we are, to bring about God's world". The Prayers of Intercession picked up on all three themes of the service, which was rounded off by the American hymn (409), 'Let us build a House' and its refrain - motto of the Triangle - 'All are welcome in this place'.
It was Deacon Gill Atkinson's first service with us. We hope she enjoyed it as much as we did. More, please!
Kindly provided by Astley Jones