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From The Garden Bench - Words

Words by David Hollows


Do you know the meaning of the following words?

Nomophobia, Ephebiphobia, Syngenesophobia

All are in the English dictionary and no peeking! A clue for you: they are kinds of fears The answers are the bottom of this reflection for your interest.

Every year new words are added to the dictionary and redundant or less popular ones are withdrawn.

In the heart of Paris there is a building only used by the members of the French Academy to determine which new words from across the world are to be included in the French language and how they are to be presented: for example, the actual word will be accepted such as ‘weekend’ or the word will be translated to a word or several words which are more pleasing to the sound of the French language. Do the people in charge of the English dictionary take the same level of care?

Photo by Waldemar Brandt via Unsplash

The evolution of words and communication has accelerated during recent decades assisted by so many new technologies which have introduced not only new vocabulary but new meanings as well. For example, a mouse used to be a small, cheese-eating, furry creature now it is a hard plastic object which is held in your hand to assist you in your computer working.

Covid-19 has also brought us new words, many of them from the world of science and medicine and which are long and complicated.

Many of us learned an additional language at school and for many of us and that was challenging enough. However, it is difficult to appreciate how demanding it must be for others from countries where English is not spoken to acquire the vocabulary of what is the most difficult language in the world.

Words are barriers for so many.

Some people have a limited range of vocabulary which restricts their confidence to perform to their best in a range of situations.

Dialects and regional accents are certainly barriers to certain professions where the art of communication is paramount to success.

We know that words can encourage and build up or destroy and tear down. There is so much power in words whether they are spoken or written.

The psychologists tell us that we think in words but dream in pictures – reflect on this one!

We live in an age of word bombardment as we are surrounded by words on billboards, in our 24/7 media-driven society and in advertisements which attempt to claim our attention.

It was once said that a picture can paint a thousand words whereas some people find themselves more fully expressed in the written rather than the spoken word. Consider the number of published books each year.

Words do not have to be expressed in the spoken form: our body language or facial expressions often communicate our thoughts to others, especially when words are simply not enough.

The actual words we use often reflect our attitude and approach to a situation or a person but they also can give insight to the real us and the personality we are. Our words have a massive impact and we often choose what that impact will be.

Our words can also be expressed in our acts of kindness and generosity, a smile or a hug.

In a word-saturated world, the absence of words can be amazing, yet silence can also be a struggle for many.

The Bible reminds us of the importance of words and begins with the first recorded words by God who spoke the world into being (Genesis chapter 1).

The Bible informs us that God has a voice: He has a conversation with Adam and Eve when walking in the garden (Genesis chapter 3).

God speaks directly with a range of characters; Moses during the wilderness experience (Exodus chapter 20) also to Jonah, Job and Samuel (1 Samuel chapter 3) God also asked others to speak on his behalf: the prophets such as Jeremiah, Isaiah and Joel had many messages to convey to those around them.

In the New Testament, God spoke during the baptism of Jesus (Mark chapter 1) and then He speaks through Jesus, the Holy Spirit or angels.

Today, God continues to speak in many different ways. Please read the following story of a person in the Persian-speaking world;

'I became a Christian after meeting Jesus in a dream. I saw a man coming towards me but I didn’t know that he was Jesus. He said to me: ‘don’t be afraid or sad because I love you, I am Jesus.’

Photo by Sincerely Media via Unsplash

As friends of Jesus, we believe that God speaks to us in His written word, the Bible, as we reflect upon the Word of God and give time for God to speak with us. We believe that the Bible is the truth about God (John chapter 17 verse 17) it has the authority of God (Mark chapter 7 verse 13) and endures forever (1 Peter chapter 1 verse 23) Prayer can be a time of words or of silence as we speak with God and wait for God to reply. Prayer should always be a 2 way communication channel never a 1 way street. Retreats are often used by Christians as specific times set apart from busy lives to spend quality time with God waiting upon Him to speak in the silence. You may have experienced such an event.

God also speaks in His created world: in the grandeur of mountains, the crashing of waves, the overwhelming power of the wind or the awesome night sky of stars when, so often, our response is not of words but of sheer awe and wonder.

Here are some words to assist you as you reflect:

Sometimes I long to call words of praise to me so that they may settle like doves on my palm. I long to coax them down from the trees into my waiting hands. Sometimes the words of praise comes, swift and powerful, like hawks to the wrist of the falconer: words of challenge, fierce words of regret. One time you came: The Word: not at my call. You came to occupy a cradle, a grave, my heart, the universe. You came to unleash words of comfort, words of hope. Sometimes I hold out my empty hands and wait.

If you have words for God, why not speak them to Him now and then wait for His reply.

You may find the following hymn useful:

I heard the voice of Jesus say (Mission Praise 275)

You may find the following prayer helpful:

We listen for your word speaking, gracious God. We listen for it falling on us like rain or snow, watering the soil of our souls. And, when we hear it, we pray that we may respond. Thank you for your written Word which guides us and for your spoken Word which encourages us. God, thank you for your Word.


God bless you

Did you guess the meaning of the words?

Nomophobia is the fear of not having mobile phone access

Ephebiphobia is the fear of teenagers

Syngenesophobia is the fear of relatives

Photo by Erik Mclean via Unsplash

Signing off; your local Lay worker, David Hollows

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