Dear First Pres Family,
Most of us have had glimpses of a spelling bee a time or two. A few of us have undoubtedly participated. You probably know the drill: a word is first pronounced, then defined and finally, read in a sentence. The contestant may ask the etymology/origin as well. (On rare occasion the contestant actually asks the spelling, but that doesn’t go so well.) Then the brain work comes: the spelling of that word for the judges.
On Sunday we dug into the word “grumble”- certainly not a tough word to spell. You spell it pretty much how it sounds. Piece of cake. But I think most of us would agree that it is an even easier word to put into practice.
The linguistic origins of this word lie in the French verb “grommeler”, meaning “to mutter to oneself.” And this French verb applies to animals also. As in, picture it: murmuring, snuffling, and growling between your teeth. And as you likely have a sense, in the king’s English, one who grumbles is one who complains or protests about something in a bad-tempered but typically muted way; or, more simply put, to mutter in discontent.
Yes, the etymology of grumble is in French. But, truth be told, I am rather sure that the real origins of grumbling lie within the human heart. For most of us it is an easy and natural habit because it pours forth from deep within us. We may convince ourselves that grumbling and thanklessness are simply from a place of frustration with our present circumstances. But, in most cases, grumbling is our response to God and reflects our lack of trust in God’s care and provision. And as I owned on Sunday, I speak from personal expertise about this. I am a grumbler. Grumbling may also hit close to home for you… but if you missed it and are game, you can listen to it here…
Our final text for this impactful series – Grateful: Embracing Gratitude as a Way of Life text came from Philippians 2 where the Apostle Paul, aware of the solid history of grumbling in the Children of Israel right up through the early church, called believers to run from that easily ingrained and deep seated habit: “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure,… then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.”
In closing on Sunday I mentioned about Saint Therese of Lisieux, a follower of Jesus who fought hard to not allow the light of Christ within her to be diminished. She devised a prayer filled approach to life. This Little Way, as she called it, is deceptively simple. It is, in short, to seek out the menial job, to welcome unjust criticisms, to befriend those who annoy us, and to help those who are ungrateful. This is how she fought to keep a heart of thankfulness and gratitude and confront grumbling head on.
How can you and I exchange our grumbling, complaining and arguing with a deep and life-giving joy and gratitude? Let us help each other to shine that light of Christ more brightly into this world of deepest need.
Associate Pastor for Congregational Care