Faithlife Sermons

Languages

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Did You Know That …

• “Stewardesses” is the longest word typed with only the left hand? And “lollipop” is the longest word typed with your right hand?

• “Typewriter” is the longest word that can be made using the letters only on one row of the keyboard?

• No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver or purple?

• “Dreamt” is the only English word that ends in the letters “mt”?

• The sentence: “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog,” uses every letter of the alphabet?

• The words “racecar,” “kayak” and “level” are the same whether they are read left to right or right to left (palindromes)?

• There are only four words in the English language which end in “dous”: tremendous, horrendous, stupendous and hazardous?

• There are two words in the English language that have all five vowels in order: “abstemious” and “facetious”?

• A “jiffy” is an actual unit of time for 1/100th of a second?


Twinkle, twinkle little star.

Someone with too much time on his or her hands made up this little jingle:

“Scintillate, scintillate, asteroid minific,

Fain would I fathom thy nature specific

Loftily poised in the ether capacious

Strongly resembling a gem, carbonatious.”

So, what’s all that about? It’s a rather more complicated version of the first stanza of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”

Language can be used to communicate, simply and directly. It can also be used to obstruct and confuse. Sometimes, the simplest confession of faith is the best: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”


Made Up Languages

People have been inventing languages since at least the 12th century, writes Amber Dance in the Los Angeles Times (August 24, 2007). At that time, a nun named Hildegard of Bingen developed a ConLang she called Lingua Ignota — Latin for “unknown language.” No one knows why she did it; maybe it had a spiritual purpose. All that survives is a short passage in Lingua Ignota and a list of 1,012 terms arranged from the highest form, “God,” to the lowest, “cricket.”

Please, no jokes about where “lawyers” appear on the list.


Shakespeare

Juliet says to Romeo, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

The Journal of the American Medical Association did a study on the names of people in the medical profession in the United States. Doctors’ names included: Needle, Probe, Lance, Ligate, Drill, Scope, Bolt, Pin, Croak and Klutz. On the upside, they found physicians named Fix, Cure, Heal, Brilliant, Able and Best. Our vet’s name is Dr. Fish. There is an Episcopal priest in New York City named Donald Goodness.

Do names make a difference? Can a person’s name determine his or her destiny? If you had the choice, would you pick Dr. Brilliant or Dr. Klutz? …

“But who do you say I am?”

—John David Clarke, “But who do you say that I am?” Sermon at Saint Bartholomew’s Church, August 21, 2005, stbarts.org.


Babel fish

In his satirical science fiction novel, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams writes about the Babel fish:

“The Babel fish is small, yellow and leechlike, and probably the oddest thing in the universe. It feeds on brain-wave energy received not from its own carrier but from those around it. It absorbs all unconscious mental frequencies from this brain-wave energy to nourish itself with. It then excretes into the mind of its carrier a telepathic matrix formed by combining the conscious thought frequencies with nerve signals picked up from the speech centers of the brain which has supplied them. The practical upshot of all this is that if you stick a Babel fish in your ear you can instantly understand anything said to you in any form of language. The speech patterns you actually hear decode the brain-wave matrix which has been fed into your mind by your Babel fish.”

You might think the Babel fish would be a boon to human communication, but in fact — as Adams tells the tale — it caused no end of difficulties:

“Meanwhile, the poor Babel fish, by effectively removing all barriers between communications, has caused more and bloodier wars than anything else in existence.”

Quite the contrary, the language Peter uses when he confesses, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God,” has the power to bring people together, rather than divide them.

— Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Harmony Books, 1979).

Merciful Savior, like the disciples, we struggle to express the Good News of Jesus Christ. Some still say you were merely a great teacher or a prophet, but we know you to be the Messiah, the Son of the living God. At times words themselves fail us and are inadequate to convey the depth of your love and peace and grace and what they have wrought in our lives. At other times our confessions and our denials of you are separated by only a breath, and we are all too aware of our human frailty and shortcomings. We stand in need of you yet again. Remind us of your infinite mercy. Draw us back to our first love. Refresh in us the passion to tell the story of Jesus in whose name we pray. Amen.


Video Ideas

The Text: Matthew 16:13-20.

The Movie: The Lord of the Rings.

The Scene: The scene where the Fellowship must speak the magic Elvish password “friend” (mellon) to get into the gates of Moria.

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