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A Christmas message for the Trumps? The power of love, the power of words

A Christmas message for the Trumps? The power of love, the power of words

For his Christmas Eve sermon, the Reverend James Harlan, rector of the Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea in Palm Beach, Florida, chose words that could be pointed. His congregation included Donald and Melania Trump, who sat close to the front. His message included the words of Proverbs, the words of Genesis, the words of Nelson Mandela…

We know the power of speech, of words.

Nelson Mandela the great champion of racial equality in South Africa, who was imprisoned for almost three decades for standing up to a government that was repressing and racist and all of that. Nelson Mandela knew the power of words. He said: “It is never my custom to use words lightly. If 27 years in prison have done anything to us it was to use the silence of solitude to make us understand how precious words are and how real speech is in its impact on the way people live and die.

Words matter. The book of Proverbs talks often about the power of words. Proverbs 18, for example says death and life are in the power of the tongue. Words can build up or tear down. Words can speak truth or obfuscate truth. Words convey information, emotion, motivation.

…moving from words to Word:

Your words and mine too often give voice to and empower the darkness that sometimes seems to loom so large. Your words and mine can have as much destructive and divisive potential as creative and healing potential. But God’s Word, made flesh in Jesus, whose incarnation we celebrate on this holy night, that word is perfect and pure light.

The Washington Post reported on the service, and printed the Reverend Harlan’s sermon in its entirety. A video is at this link (the sermon begins around 55:00). The White House press pool report is here.


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As an Episcopalian, it makes me sad that the congregation would have stood and clapped for this man that has done so much to hurt “the least of these our brethren,” and “this fragile earth, our island home.” One hopes that they were there on Christmas Eve to worship a baby laid in a manger and his mother who proclaimed the greatness of the Lord who “scattered the proud in their conceit” and “lifted up the lowly.”

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