Word Play

Word Play


The Rev. Dr. John A. Nelson is pastor of the Congregational Church of Salisbury. He speaks only two languages, but likes saying words from a bunch more.

Scripture:   Genesis 11:1  (NRSV)

Now the whole earth had one language and the same words.

Reflection: Word Play

What fun is that? One language, all the same words?
As the Tower of Babel story goes, God saw the people doing idolatrous things and scattered them, creating a multiplicity of languages along the way. From that angle the diversity of tongues is more of a curse than a blessing.
The critic John Simon saw language troubles, too: "In the beginning was the word. But by the time the second word was added to it, there was trouble. For with it came syntax…." (Paradigms Lost, 1988). Okay, he had a point. In my family we may not cry over spilt milk, but an argument about the correct usage of the nominative case can resemble an episode of Law & Order.
Still, I say: what fun would it be to have one language and the same words? Convenient, yes. But what about the wonder when you learn words in a language that’s new to you, and then use those words to connect with someone else? What about the delight when you (haltingly, with an unsure accent) greet a stranger whose eyes light up in appreciation?
St. John wrote that “In the beginning was the logos”, the “word,” the nugget of meaning that miraculously connects a speaker with a listener. Now, that’s fun! Holy, too.


Holy Giver of meaning, bring on the tongues! Let us revel in sounds until their meanings emerge in our spirits and bind us together in an ever-widening language of delight! Amen.

New Prayer Requests:

We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Drew Page at drewp@ctucc.org.

Prayers of Intercession:

  • For the Rev. John Olson, retired, Fairfield East Association, who is recovering from a stroke
  • For those grieving or suffering after a shooting in Virginia Beach Friday left 13 dead and 4 wounded
  • For the family and friends of Rev. Dr. Harry Peatt, retired CT pastor, who died on May 14

Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:

  • For emergency response personnel whose action help others in all types of situations and often at risk to their own lives

Please Remember These Connecticut Conference Churches
In Your Prayers:

Congregational Church of Putnam UCC
First Church of Christ Congregational, UCC
Ridgebury Congregational UCC
The First Congregational Church of Ridgefield
Riverton Congregational Church

This Week in History:
June 4, 1989 (30 years ago)  Chinese troops kill and arrest protesters in Tiananmen Square. Nearly a million Chinese had gathered in the square days before to protest for greater democracy and to call for the resignation of many communist party leaders. As troops stormed the square, many protesters were shot and killed while trying to flee or turning and attacking troops. Numbers are unconfirmed, but western sources estimate at least 300 dead and thousands arrested. The event led to the U.S. imposing economic sanctions against China in response to the brutality of the troops.

John A. Nelson

pastor and teacher of the Niantic Community Church

June 03, 2019
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