During last Sunday’s Children’s Message, I shared with our kids that this week, January 21-25, is NO NAME- CALLING WEEK. The GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network) web site gives this background information about this special week. “Founded in 2004 with Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, and evaluated by GLSEN research, No Name-Calling Week was inspired by James Howe’s novel The Misfits about students who, after experiencing name-calling, run for Student Council on a No Name-Calling platform.”
Our kids and I talked about how hurtful calling each other bad names can be. The old children’s rhyme, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names can never hurt me” could more truthfully be changed to “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names can really hurt me.” They agreed that they’ve heard such names called. On Post-it Notes they wrote positive names they like being called and negative names they hope to never hear themselves called. Then they stuck the colorful Post-its up on the wooden walls in the front of the sanctuary as visual reminders of the bad and the good that words can do.
As with most Children’s Messages, there are take-a-ways for adults, as well as kids. In our current society there are many and various opportunities for words to be transmitted in writing and speech— the Internet, social media in all its manifestations, newspapers, books, television, etc. In the blink of an eye messages can be sent and received that can lift up or can devastate. Words can be said that cannot be unsaid. It would behoove all of us to THINK before we speak or before we hit SEND. And so I propose extending NO NAME-CALLING WEEK to a much longer period of time—maybe NO NAME-CALLING FOREVER, because it’s just that important an issue.
Did you know that NO NAME-CALLING is biblical? In James 3:8-10, we read, “…but no one can tame the tongue. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters this ought not to be so.”
And so I pray that this special week will be a reminder to each of us to use our words, spoken and written, to build each other up. And they’ll know we are Christians by our loving words!
In Christ’s love.
Pastor Candy Thomas
Christ Congregational United Church of Christ