Vandalia United Methodist Church


From the Pastor

On September 1, 1878 Emma Nutt was hired by the Boston Telephone Dispatch Company as their telephone operator. Customers commented on her soothing voice, positive response to their inquiries and pleasant demeanor. Telephone companies had previously hired young men for this work, their demeanor was apparently not as "soothing"! Nutt was paid $10 per month and worked a 54 hour week. She is remembered to this day on September 1, "Emma Nutt Day".
I have been thinking a lot these days about words, what we say or type/text and how we say the things we speak or type or text. In a culture in which words are too often used to dominate, denigrate and divide; I wonder how my words might do the same. Perhaps, I need to remember Emma Nutt and let my words soothe, calm and heal.
I remember vividly an experience early in my ministry. A minister and mentor I greatly admire sat in his office with a church member who was "hot under the collar", I do not remember what she was angry about. In that moment, she was yelling at him, suggesting he was sabotaging "her" ministry, and ineffective in his ministry. She raged for several moments and then exhausted was quiet. He smiled at her and then thanked her for the constructive criticism. It was not, however, what he said but how he said it; in a quiet, measured tone; that struck me and quieted her in the moment. He could have been loud and argumentative in reply and probably been justified; but his words were like honey and in a few moments she was apologizing for her anger and working with him on a
solution. She left the office that day with a smile.
I try to do this, especially when out in "the world". I try to listen more than I speak. Measure my words and mix in kindnesses. Smile more and glare less. When angry I work to practice James' bypass medicine (see James 3), and let my words first pass through my soul before leaving my mouth (or fingers on a keyboard). I am not always successful in this, and sometimes wish I could restate or retype what I have expressed; but I am growing as a Christian (John Wesley would say, "being sanctified"). I am especially conscious of this in church settings.
One of my favorite Proverbs is "kind words are like honey, sweet to the soul and healthy for the body" (Proverbs 16:24). I think of the kind words that have been shared with me and how they have healed and soothed my soul.
There are moments when our words may have to be sharp, forceful and even angry. Jesus got angry a time or two. But for the most part I think our words should be more like honey than the sting of a bee. And I think the world might be a gentler place if we were more like Emma Nutt in what we say, text and type. By the way, in addition to being the first female telephone operator in America, Emma Nutt was also one of the longest serving (33 years), and is still celebrated today long after other operators whose voices and attitudes were not as smoothing have been forgotten. May the same be said of us. Amen.

                                           Sermon Series for September

Forgiveness is at the heart of the Christian faith (see Matthew 6) but also among the hardest
aspects of the Christian faith. Must we always forgive? How can we forgive unthinkable cruelties? Do we have to forgive others in person? How do we forgive ourselves?

Our primary text will be: Matthew 18:21-34

Sept. 13 Forgiveness, what is forgiveness?

Sept. 20 Forgiveness begins with grace, we are forgiven.

Sept. 27 Forgiveness, how and when to offer it to others.





9:30 AM Worship Service
10:40 AM Sunday School

First United Methodist Church of Vandalia :: 618.283.3684