". . . little shall I grace my cause

In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,

I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver . . ."

(William Shakespeare's Othello, I.iii.88-90)

Monday, February 1, 2010

One Little Word

We sang one of my favorite hymns in church yesterday: "How Firm a Foundation" (Lutheran Service Book #728). Here's the first stanza:

"How firm a foundation, O saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word
What more can He say than to you He has said
Who unto the Savior for refuge have fled?"

The image of God speaking reminds me of the third stanza of "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" (LSB 656):

"Though devils all the world should fill,
All eager to devour us,
We tremble not, we fear no ill,
They shall not overpower us.
This world's prince may still
Scowl fierce as he will.
He can harm us none.
He's judged, the deed is done.
One little word can fell him."

That "one little word" should really be written as "One Little Word." Because the One Little Word that sends the Devil packing is the same One Little Word that is the cornerstone of the faith. It is the Word that was with God in the beginning, the Word that became flesh only to be nailed to a cross for the sin of all mankind. What more, indeed, can God say? In the name Jesus He has said it all, to all, for all time. The "excellent Word" to which the hymnist refers is in fact the One who is the "most excellent of men," whose "lips have been anointed with grace" (Psalm 45:2). As the Creator spoke his creation into being, the Son speaks salvation to the fallen. And His redeemed in turn speak the One Little Word of His name back to Him, confessing that saving faith before all the world so that others may hear it and likewise be saved.

I am a word person. I love to read and write, to play with words and to study them. Every sentence is a sort of puzzle for me, and I greatly enjoy the process of fitting all the pieces of the puzzle together in just the right way. It can be a challenge to achieve the desired rhythm and cadence, to make the words flow together so that they not only communicates clearly but are pleasing to the ear. I think I have a knack for it, but at the same time, I have to work at it. It doesn't just happen.

In contrast to my many and labored human words, words which rattle on too long, try too hard, and are prone to being misunderstood, there stands the One Little Word of Jesus, indivisible and all-encompassing in its simplicity. I speak, and it is all resounding gongs and clanging cymbals (1 Cor. 13); He speaks, and His Word is love. How glad I am that the One Little Word my God chose to speak was to name His Son, Jesus, rather than to name me, for all time, Sinner! Little it may seem, yet it is big enough to chase away my sin and that of all the world. Thanks be to God for His One Little Word!


Elephantschild said...

"How Firm A Foundation" was our wedding hymn. I was very glad to see it in LSB.

Cheryl said...

It's a great hymn for a wedding, isn't it?

And as always, I love the way my husband plays it. He typically does it on piano with sort of a rock beat. Scandalous, huh?

Elephantschild said...

I'll have to hear that sometime!