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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Graceful words: Word/words

In My Fair Lady, Eliza Doolittle sings to her suitor, Freddie, about being "sick of words." "If you're in love, show me!" she demands.

"Showing us" is exactly what God does in the Incarnation. Words of love become the Word of Love, in the flesh.

Throughout the Old Testament, the prophets spoke the Lord's word. But time and again, God's people proved hard of hearing. They turned a deaf ear to God's message. And these prophets were often reluctant messengers, not wanting the responsibility of speaking for God. Their prophetic words weren't enough; an incarnate Word was needed.

"Show me!"

"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us ... full of grace and truth" (John 1:14).

When Lutherans talk about the Word, God's Word, we mean a specific kind of communication — the gracious good news of Jesus Christ, crucified and risen for us. God's Word isn't mere words but becomes incarnate to love and to save us. The Word becomes flesh and dwells among us, not to convey information about God but to give life! The Word, we say, is a "means of grace."

The statement of faith in the ELCA constitution gives a powerful witness to our Christ-centered understanding of the Word of God:

* "Jesus Christ is the Word of God incarnate."

* "The proclamation of God's message to us as both Law and Gospel is the Word of God."

* "The canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the written Word of God."

Note the order. We trust the preached and written word because they witness to Jesus as the Incarnate Word.

God's Word dwells among us daily throughout our lives. And our words become the Word, "full of grace and truth" when we share Christ's love with others. Show and tell!


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