The Power of a Sentence From the Editor

The Power of a Sentence

Stephen Kennedy

“There are sentences lodged in my brain that I first read when I was in college 40 years ago!”

I was chatting with my daughter on the phone recently. For the past three or four years now, she has spent half of her year in Australia. I’ll leave it to you to guess which half. In the course of our conversation, we learned that we had both just finished reading books that disappointed us. When she asked me why mine had left me underwhelmed, I paused for a second to think and then answered, “There was not one memorable sentence in the entire book.”

That got me thinking about the power of a sentence. I love to read books. But I’ve come to realize that when I read a book, I am hunting for sentences. And I remember sentences. There are sentences lodged in my brain that I first read when I was in college 40 years ago!

I’ve been writing editorials for testimony for nine years. That’s roughly 80,000 words. Using an average of 13 words per sentence, that means I’ve offered up over 6,000 sentences for this page. There are some I wish I could go back and rework. Some are best forgotten. But here, for a return engagement, are a few that I’m willing to own up to.

“Labels deceive us into thinking we can define another person and pack them neatly into the appropriate box. They are, at best, a lazy way of dealing with another human being. At their worst, they destroy people.” – September 2007

“We are a diverse bunch of people within this Fellowship we call the PAOC. If we learn to listen to each other, that diversity will become a strength. If we enshrine our opinions and worship our dogma, we will never be what we call ourselves—a Fellowship.” – August 2008

“As followers of Christ, our way of living cannot be separated from our way of loving.” – October 2008

“A hefty snowfall is a healthy antidote for an overly hectic lifestyle.” – January 2009

 “It is not hard to give up on church if I am going for any other reason than God. Finding fault in a church service is like finding Waldo at a Goth convention—it’s too easy!” – October 2009

“Trying to relive the past is like rewrapping your Christmas gifts in order to open them all again—the experience is never the same once you know what’s inside.” – November 2009

“God, pretty much all the time, ambushes me. His presence catches me unaware, surprises me. You’d think I’d be on to His tricks by now, but I’m not. I’m like the child who, no matter how many times you pop out from behind your hands and say ‘Boo!’ is startled by your sudden appearance. But like that child, I’m happy to play along, happy to feel my heart race, and to break out in a silly grin each time it happens.” – March/April 2016

“How can I begin to understand another person if I do not, at least, make an effort to look at things through their window? Nailing the furniture to the floor leaves no room for growth or change. It is shortsighted and presumptuous. None of us have arrived and no one knows it all.” – October 2010

“We are people who claim that the birth of a child in a backyard stable actually changed the course of human history. Shouldn’t we be celebrating the inherent importance of everyday events?” – January 2011

“We cannot know what a day will offer, let alone what the years may bring. So, instead of pining for days gone by or hoping for years yet to come, maybe we need to look for the best in each day we’re given.” – November 2011

“Our culture is choking on poorly told stories that offer very little, if any, hope. We need to set aside the jargon and offer up God’s story with plain, powerful words.” – August/September 2011

“In fact, most of the things—physical things, I mean—that I am grateful for in my life highlight my privileged place in this world. I am not saying I should not be thankful for them. I am saying that I need to be aware of this reality and be pushed deeper in my gratitude to the things that connect me to my fellow man.” – October 2011

“Something miraculous happens when we actively wait for Christ to come and finally set all things right. When we do the work He told us to do, using the gifts the Spirit gives us, Christ comes now. He comes to people through us as we forgive, as we love, as we show mercy; when we give a cup of water to those who are thirsty, visit those in prison, clothe those who are naked, feed the hungry, and stand up for the widow and the orphan. When we act as we wait, Christ comes. Through His body, the church, He comes.” – January 2012

“Even the most altruistic and well-thought-out system will, at some point, fail someone. It’s the nature of systems, whether political, social or even—dare I say especially?—religious. Systems tend to treat people as objects. They work well with objects. Objects normally stay where you put them and behave predictably—except for reading glasses and computers. People, on the other hand, have a way of wandering outside the neatly arranged boxes of a system’s organizational flow chart.” – April 2012

Thanks to the powers that be for allowing me this privilege. And thanks to you for reading my sentences. I hope there have been a few worth remembering. 

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