The Word Does Not Return Empty


For our service, At the Crux of the Matter, the scripture reading was a composite of texts. I begin this post with those texts, followed by the short meditation that I wrote for that service.

A Composite Reading of the Word from the Word
… in four voices

In the beginning … God said,
“Let there be light”,
and there was light.
And God saw the light was good.

And God said,
and God said,
and God said …

and it was so,
it was so,
it was so …


so very good.

The word of the Lord is upright,
and all his work is done in faithfulness.
He loves righteousness and justice,
the earth is full of the steadfast love of God.

The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the decrees of the Lord are sure,
making wise the simple;
the commandment of the Lord is clear,
enlightening the eyes …

More to be desired than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey,
and drippings from the honeycomb.

By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,
and all their host by the breath of his mouth.
For he spoke and it came to be;
he commanded and it stood firm.

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,

and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came into being through him,
and without him not one thing came into being.

What has come into being in him was life,
and the life was the light of all people.

The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness did not overcome it.

And the Word became flesh and lived among us,
and we have seen his glory,
the glory as of a father’s only son,
full of grace and truth.

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
patience, generosity, faithfulness,

gentleness, and self-control.


The Word Does Not Return Empty
A meditation on the closing of Crux Books.

In the beginning was the Word.

Before the book,
even before language,

there was the Word.

A calling, inviting, creating,
ordering and blessing Word.

A Word born of a divine love
that overflows into all of creation,
saturating all things with that love.

The Word of the Creator did not return empty.

A generative Word.

And the Word gave birth to more words.
Words of promise and torah,
words of wisdom and prophecy,
comforting words and abrasive words of lament,
words of truth and justice, of compassion and mercy.

Sweet words, words to enlighten our paths.

The Word had a story to tell,
a wild, conflicted, torturous tale of
God’s incurable love,
against the odds,
in the face of death,
in the face of lies.

A scripted Word.

The Word which was before the book,
gave birth to a whole library of books.

And these words, too, do not return empty.

A bibliographic Word.

And the Word,
the generative Word that called forth all of creation,
the scripted Word of promise, prophecy, wisdom and torah,
the narrative Word of God’s redemptive way with humanity,
became flesh.

It couldn’t be any other way.

The Word of creation is for creation.
The Word of promise must be fulfilled.

The storied Word was always on the path of incarnation.

The Word became flesh,
the light shined anew in the darkness;
in the face of a culture of deceit,
the truth was embodied in Jesus;
in a degenerative world of shame,
we beheld his glory and grace.

The Word that went to the cross, but emptied the tomb,
and returned in resurrection power.

A regenerative Word.

Cindy and Ed Hayley know a lot about words.
So also did their predecessor, Pat Paas,
and a whole generation of students who have worked
in the Crux Bookstore.

And they know that not all words are created equal.

Some words propagate lies.
Some words deceive and abuse.
Some words bear witness to idolatry,
and other words are idols themselves.

It is true enough, dear friends, that we are people of the Word.
But so is everyone else.

All of life is scripted, all worldviews tell a story,
all human behaviour is rooted in words.

The question is which ones?

Which words generate life?
Which words birth wisdom?
Which words can give us vision beyond the range of normal sight?
Which word is a word of profound and radical regeneration?

And how can we discern a true word,
a book that is profoundly worth reading,
a word that is of life, not death,
a regenerative word,
a word worthy of the One who is the Word made flesh?

Cindy knows the answer to this question.

If the Word that we seek is an inspired Word;
if it is a Word that bears the breath of the Spirit
that hovered over the waters in the beginning;
the Spirit who accompanied the Israelites out of Egypt,
who inspired her prophets, the writings and the Torah;
if it is this Spirit that came upon the Word made flesh;
then we will recognize this generative Word
by the rich fruit that it bears;
nothing less than the fruit of the Spirit.

All words that are worthy of this creative,
scripted and enfleshed Word
will bear the fruit of love, joy, peace,

patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness,
gentleness and self-control.

You will know them by their fruit.
And we rightly judge words by the fruit that
they bear in every dimension of our lives.

My dear friends, Crux Books
has been a steward of the Word 
in our midst.

More than a bookstore, Cindy saw her calling at Crux
to be a ministry of the Word.

And I am here to testify, my sister, that your ministry,
and the ministry of a host of staff in your store over the years,
has indeed born rich fruit,
nothing less than the fruit of the Spirit in our midst.

And for that, we are deeply, deeply grateful.

Brian Walsh
Brian is an activist theologian, a retired CRC campus minister, the founder of the Wine Before Breakfast community, and farms with Sylvia Keesmaat at Russet House Farm.He engages issues of theology and culture, and has written a couple of books you might want to check out. His most recent offering is cowritten with Sylvia Keesmaat and entitled Romans Disarmed: Resisting Empire, Demanding Justice.

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