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Pastor Leanne's Message for the month of June: “ When Words Fail“

   A lot of my time is spent using words, so it should come as no surprise that I think words are very powerful. Words are powerful when I say, “I now pronounce you husband and wife” or “I baptize you in the name of the Father Son, and Holy Spirit.”  They are powerful, when I hear our Child Care Workers correcting children with words that teach rather than scorn. They are powerful, when politicians use the vocabulary of violence to address their ideological opponents. They are powerful when a parent sits down with a child to explain how the world works and what makes life safe. They are powerful when lovers address their differences in terms that seek cooperation instead of domination.
   But sometimes words fail - - and lately I have experienced that. When we or people we love are in pain, it is not unusual for one to wonder what to say.  When 19 children and two loving teachers are shot down in cold blood, and the media goes crazy with political word-wars that do nothing…  I find myself grieving heavily, sputtering in anger, and hurt, and frustrated, and keenly aware that all the words in the world will fix nothing.
   Because I think words are powerful, I feel utterly helpless when words fail, when I do not know what to say, or when I know that no matter what I say, I cannot fix the pain or drive away evil.

 I hate helplessness. I hate powerlessness.  I need my words.

   My impulse, (and maybe yours too) at times like this is always to pray, but prayer, too, involves words.  Fortunately, the God of scripture who knows the human heart intimately, understands our wordlessness. When the need to express sorrow, anger, frustration, and longing is so intense we cannot speak our own passion. The Apostle Paul tells us, “Now in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words;”    (Ro. 8:26a). This means that in prayer, our tears, sighs, moans and groans are heard by God as the vocabulary of the soul.

God is present when words fail.

   What’s more, according to Paul; the Spirit that knows us so intimately that it can help us express ourselves to God without words, is also the Spirit that knows God intimately. “And He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” (Ro. 8:26b)  For Paul, this wordless communication is the purest form of connection -- through the Spirit our wordless depths are connected to the wordless depths of God.  
   This is amazing.  Yet, even more amazing is how the Apostle describes the outcome of this connection. He says in the same chapter, “If God is for us, who is against us? 32He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? 33Who will bring charges against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; 34who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, but rather, was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. 35Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or trouble, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 37But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ  Jesus our Lord.”
   So, there we have it – when words fail, when we feel utterly powerless, our powerful connection to a loving God is secured by the Spirit who does not need our best words to communicate our feelings to God. When words fail, we are not powerless. When words fail, God hears us clearly.  This is the word of the Lord – thanks be to God. 




The Scholarship Committee of First Presbyterian Church is pleased to announce the availability of a limited number of scholarships for our church community.  To be eligible for consideration to receive a scholarship, a student must be an active member of First Presbyterian Church of Bismarck or must have been an active participant in the life of First Presbyterian Church of Bismarck for at least three years.  The awards are given for students at any level of study beyond high school.  Four years is the maximum for receiving scholarships:  these need not be consecutive years.  Graduate students may apply for scholarships, providing they are within the four year maximum.  The deadline to apply is May 13th, 2022.



​We encourage you to continue to love your neighbor well at this time. Hebrews 13:16 challenges us to “do what is good and to share, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” Thank you for being the Church. 

Are you in need of assistance that you can not get help?  Email firstpresbyterian@fpcbismarck or call      701-223-6091 and let us know how we can help.


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First Presbyterian Church

is a Community called to love God through Worship and Prayer, receiving and serving our neighbors with the compassion of Christ, open to new beginnings and the spiritual growth of children, youth and adults. 

214 E. Thayer Ave. Bismarck, ND
Phone: (701) 223-6091
Email: firstpresbyterian@fpcbismarck.com

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​Together, we will continue to make progress and come out strong.

First Presbyterian Church of Bismarck