Speech - Finding a Healthy Spirituality

“Walk like an Egyptian” was one of the great pop hits of my childhood. And the video had hundreds of people walking with their arms and legs bent at right angles like the pictograms of ancient Egyptian art. It was obvious and funny at the same time, and I always appreciate dance numbers that have very specific instructions.

As Christians we are a unique branch, the Anglican tradition being neither Roman Catholic nor Protestant, but both and neither. We take a certain pride in our position, but that pride is often mis-attached to the worst aspects of our Episcopal church.

For example, I have been told more than once that Episcopalians don’t pray in public or know the Bible. Both of these statements are wrong historically and across the church. They may be true of some shy congregation or ignorant clergy person, but the church is centered around a common prayer book (almost entirely public and written for the express purpose of giving people back a simpler worship and knowledge of the Bible.)

We are Episcopal/Anglican Christians, but our primary affiliation is to Christ not to Canterbury. And as Christians, we have to learn to be Christ-followers, disciples. You are a disciple of Christ if you are a member of our church. Being a member means that you are a disciple.

I know that was repetitive, but it needs to be said repeatedly. We follow Jesus and believe in him as the Son of God. We trust what he taught and try to do and be what he commanded.

Among other things, that means we have to learn to talk like a Christian. We have to learn to speak with truth, love, respect, and blessing.

Love means that we speak the best of others, holding up the best in them and for them. That sometimes clashes with the truth, especially when they have offended, hurt, or failed us. That is why Jesus was clear when he said, “Love your enemies.”

Respect is one of those words that can be so common as to be meaningless. But think what respect would mean in speech about others when they are not present. We would honor boundaries and hold others in esteem even when they are not in the room.

Truth, love, and respect are common enough ideas that they really don’t need more than a mention. Blessing is a less common reality for most people. How do we learn to bless?

Most of us think of blessing only in the Southern phrase, “Bless her heart.” And we assume that is meant ironically.

But to bless someone is to call on God to give another happiness and well-being. It requires us to move beyond a neutral, non-harming stance to an active stance of working for the good of another. We bless others when we speak the good of God over another person.

I am not a natural when it comes to blessing others. Luckily, we have children to practice on. Early on I made a practice of blessing Amy and the kids. They are easy 99% of the time. “May God give you wisdom, courage, and strength.”

Eventually I began to bless others, first silently and then out loud. Of course, every week I bless liturgically, but I have even begun blessing informally.

This is not something that is reserved for priests or “religious” people. It is a normal part of being a Christian, and importantly a part of how we adopt our actual Episcopal heritage into our speaking and being.