A pondering from the Rev. Lynn White, Priest Associate

Chew

Preachers often begin their sermons with these words. “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be always acceptable to you, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer” (Ps. 19:14).

How much time do you spend thinking about/meditating upon the words you read or hear and the realities in the world? Do you accept what others tell you, or do you think about, chew on, what you have heard or seen? (False truths is a phrase which has become common lingo).

Recently, I learned about a prehistoric sea dragon, the ichthyosaur, a kind of fish lizard with characteristics of both reptile and mammal. Its 200 million year remains were found on the Jurassic Coast of England. Of course, its amazing age is surpassed by God, who was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Nevertheless, I was awed by this discovery. Sea dragons don’t chew, rather they use their teeth as a kind of cage to snap around its prey and swallow it whole.

Much more current, my cousin sent me an email about tigers whose tongues are so rough that they can lick the paint off buildings and strip the skin from the bones of an animal. The roars from their throats send fear-quaking chills down to the depths of their prey’s beings. Because tigers are carnivores, they only have 500 taste buds compared to humans who have about 9000. Seems to me that they miss a lot of joy. They can even eat rotting meat without any ill effects.

As I thought about mouths, chewing and swallowing, the image of a two-way street came to mind; one direction goes in, the beginning of the digestive system to feed the body and delight the taste, and/or to take a gulp of air. In the other direction things come out of a mouth; sounds and words, a primary form of communication, breath, and saliva. Creation itself was spoken into being by God in Genesis, “God said, let there be light…”, and the apple became the first well known food and bite.

The need to be fed by food is universal, and as animals we also need to be fed by affirmation and love. Without both foods, we wither away. The more we chew on things, the better we understand and are able to take delight. Our mouths and chewing are powerful gifts to be used with care. A rough word or comment can cause hurt, stripping away our esteem to the bone. Swallowing whole can be dangerous. We are called to respond to the world as well as loving the Lord with all our hearts, minds, and souls. 

It is not only a preacher who ought chew upon, remember, and use these words from Psalm 19:14, as their mantras. Each one of us might use the words to be better Christians, better people.

To God be the glory!

Amen.