Turn Around

I'm kind of a grammar geek. I was that weird kid in grade school who loved diagramming sentences. There's just something comforting about figuring out how each word fits into the sentence and charting it accordingly. It's the only way I can connect with those of you who like to look at budgets and financial reports, but for some reason it's just not the same for me. I also like to study how language changes through the years. Language formation and grammar are always in flux. "Standard" English today is not the standard English of 100 years ago or even 50 years ago, for that matter. What is acceptable today might not have been acceptable in the writing of our parents or grandparents. That's because language can be driven from the bottom up. What I mean to say is that rules of grammar can be changed by general usage. As much as grammarians might complain, correct word usage is not always determined by the rules. It takes time, but if a majority of the people of a certain language adopts a way of saying something, it will eventually become the standard. It doesn't matter if it's right or wrong. A good example is the word irregardless. Right now, if you were to use the word irregardless in a paper for school, your paper would come back to you bleeding red ink. Irregardless is not technically a word in standard usage. Irregardless is a combination of two words that have overlapping meanings-irrespective and regardless. But I would bet that in another 50 years or so, the word irregardless will be a standard word, simply because so many people are using it. English teachers can complain if they want, but you might as well try keeping the tide from coming in. Unfortunately for an English snob like me, the tide is coming in on the pronunciation of the word nuclear. It still drives me crazy to hear it pronounced nu-cue-lar. But it's probably here to stay. In the same way that words can change, they can also fall out of use. This morning we're going to be talking about a word that we're hearing less and less. And we Christians (particularly we preachers) are probably to blame. It's a word that is prominent in the Gospels but is not very prominent in our conversation. I would guess that's because it was used so extravagantly and so loudly, people just became tired of it. This word just began to lose its punch. Today I'd like to try and bring that word back, especially because it is among Jesus' first words to His followers. When Jesus begins to change lives, He invites us to change in a specific way. He invites us to repent. I hope you'll get a clearer picture of what that means this morning.