This week’s clection: a community gathered round a hashtag

JobTo make some of us who say Morning Prayer on our own accountable, we gather our thoughts using Twitter #cLectio – some are now using Facebook too. It is a company I find helpful. I look forward to our daily posts, some of which are quite challenging. Hashtag cLectio was the brainchild of friend and colleague @theosoc Christopher Burkett. #cLectio stands for the (Revised) Common Lectionary – that’s the “c”, see? The lectionary lists readings for worship for each day of the year.  (There’s an app for daily prayer using the lectionary readings.)

Posts are often our first thoughts, sometimes our only thoughts, and other times they’re more thoughtful. Anyone can join in, either daily or occasional. At the moment we are reading through the book of Job. This is an amazing piece of ancient literature which is a sustained reflection on suffering, faith and friendship: questions which remain contemporary through the ages.

In this week’s clection we’ve been gobsmacked by Job’s friend, Eliphaz. Alan Jewell, @VicarAlan, scoffed: “With friends like Eliphaz ….” while Christopher complained “Eliphaz really gets to me, I so dislike what he says”. Eliphaz’s windy words and miserable comfort have made us reflect on what we say and how we respond to suffering and grief – thoughts made more urgent with events at Grenfell Tower and Finsbury Park.

We’re not meant to like Eliphaz and his words warn us off from being a friend like him. My “clection of the day” yesterday arose from some of Eliphaz’s words from the appointed reading, Job 15.

Your sin prompts your mouth;
you adopt the tongue of the crafty.
Your own mouth condemns you, not mine;
your own lips testify against you.

How very dare he? In fact, it’s these windy, wounding words that condemns Eliphaz to the readers’ ridicule. But there is a truth in what Eliphaz says. Our “sin” does prompt our mouths and we do utter our attitudes. We have a proverb that says that eyes are the windows of the soul. But if we speak from the heart what we say is also a reflection of our heart and soul.

So I got to pray:

Job15

And I remembered the question raised by Malcolm Guite in a poem from his Singing Bowl:

What if every word we say
Never ends or fades away,
Gathers volume gathers weigh,
Drums and dins us with dismay
Surges on some dreadful day
When we cannot get away
Whelms us till we drown?

What if not a word is lost,
What if every word we cast
Cruel, cunning, cold, accurst,
Every word we cut and paste
Echoes to us from the past
Fares and finds us first and last
Haunts and hunts us down?

What if every murmuration,
Every otiose oration
Every oath and imprecation,
Insidious insinuation,
Every blogger’s aberration,
Every facebook fabrication
Every twittered titivation,
Unexamined asservation
Idiotic iteration,
Every facile explanation,
Drags us to the ground?

What if each polite evasion
Every word of defamation,
Insults made by implication,
Querulous prevarication,
Compromise in convocation,
Propaganda for the nation
False or flattering peruasion,
Blackmail and manipulation
Simulated desparation
Grows to such reverberation
That it shakes our own foundation,
Shakes and brings us down?

Better that some words be lost,
Better that they should not last,
Tongues of fire and violence.
O Word through whom the world is blessed,
Word in whom all words are graced,
Do not bring us to the test,
Give our clamant voices rest,
And the rest is silence.

I am so grateful for the #cLectio community.

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