Stuff I Say

Stuff I Say

A few weeks ago I was invited to speak at Bergthal Mennonite Church. As I was preparing, I started wondering about my “themes” and if I’m prone to saying the same things over and over again.

So I wandered down a rabbit trail and dug through everything I could remember that I’d written or said during my time as MCA moderator. I looked through sermons, devotions, fundraising letters, reports, Menno Minutes, even blurbs I’d said at meetings to introduce topics - anything I could think of and could still find. I put them all together and by the magic of an online Word Cloud generator, this graphic was created. (Apparently Andrea Zapf and I have been on the same Word Cloud wave length, recently!) I call it “Stuff I Say.”

Not surprisingly, the words “church” and “congregation,” “God” “people” “together” “community” and “MCA” all stand out. I thought “community” might show up a little bigger. I do like to talk about community, especially the community that extends beyond our congregations and pushes at our comfort zones. Being a part of an extended community is one of the reasons that I enjoy my time with MCA as much as I do.

Other words that stand out for me are “support,” “relationships,” “sharing,” “experiencing,” “exploring, “worship” and “gathering.” In other words, being church!

And then there’s a group of less prominent words that surprised me a bit. These were words like “serving” “peace” “joy” and “diversity.” I actually thought those were words that I use more often and that they would have shown up bigger in this image.

This exercise made me pause and reflect on the words we use and the words we think we use. I wonder if words like “peace” and “service” are slipping from our vocabulary. These two concepts have long been central to our beliefs and the way we live out our faith. But do we explore, talk about and live them as intentionally as we did in the past, or as much as we think we do? What would it mean if they are, actually, beginning to disappear from our vocabulary?

I hope to be more intentional about when and where I use the words “peace” and “service” in the coming year. Perhaps they’ll become my new themes as I explore ways to give them meaning and new life, and as I continue to say stuff.