Independence Day weekend here in the United States invites the citizenry to enjoy the traditions that surround celebrating our emergence as a nation in 1776. We love our parades, picnics, fireworks and speech readings, practices that uphold values of community and hope we still cherish. Our history is checkered with less stellar actions as well, so this day is also a call to recommit ourselves to what is better, not only for the United States, but for the world.

Another tradition is the three-day-weekend road trip. Whenever we get the chance to move about, try something new, or revisit an old haunt, we take it and drive with it. The only dimmer on the excitement switch is that necessary evil: road construction. We ache for pristine highways to carry us effortlessly to our destinations, but we curse the actual upkeep for the confusion and delays it causes. Road construction is the original definition of the two sides of the blessing/curse coin. You really can't have good roads without good road maintenance.

My point in bringing this all up is to say that we all get used to certain things, whether they be holiday celebrations or travel routes, and we don't like those things to be disrupted. We have our ways and we are a bit stuck in them.

Our language use is another place that empties our soul onto the pavement if we don't feel it is honored, respected or just plain acknowledged. We each have our own way of communicating. We may not be aware of how our personal systems came together, but we know what we mean as we're saying it. We also are entirely confused when the person to whom we are speaking doesn't get it. Road blocks. Conversational road blocks that require us to repeat ourselves, change our words around, ask questions of each other, figure things out between us. Too much work? It does feel that way sometimes, doesn't it? Especially if the person with whom we are conversing seems deliberate in their attempts to not understand us.

I've thought about Jesus' communication with his disciples on a regular basis, and have talked about it here before. There was some serious confusion represented among that group on more than one occasion. Perhaps the disciples originated the phrase, "Pardon me?" We still don't always get what Jesus meant either, so as far as I am concerned they should be allowed their learning curve too.

What I think Jesus brought to the table, in terms of conversation, is a whole new language. He didn't come to destroy his own religious tradition, but came to reframe it in a new language free of guilt, obligation and fear. Take a moment to consider the ramifications of those concepts in your own life. Now, take a few moments to examine your own language choices, paying specific attention to where you see these old chestnuts being tossed around for best effect.

Is it easier to go straight for the jugular with some sarcasm? Does your own desire to keep the status quo spur you to manipulate others to join you? What is underneath your anger at someone else's refusal to agree with you? These are questions of faith and how it is expressed in your everyday life.

It is incredibly easy to repeat what we know, say we were raised a certain way and that we can't let go of those old beliefs - or the language that manifests them - because that is who we are.

It is a challenge to our faith to go back to the Bible, read through some of those conversations Jesus shared with his contemporaries and look for ways to replicate his core beliefs in our daily lives. It is a gift that we have these written words available to us to be able to do some personal reflection and self-exploration and see how our faith is fitting and representative of ourselves as God's children.

Road construction. It makes us shudder. Language reconstruction. That may make our eyes glaze over and shut down our minds, but if that happens our faith will go sliding along the same path. Easier, but not particularly productive to serving our God or living in community with our partners in faith.

Author's Bio: 

The Rev. Cory L. Kemp, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay with a double major in Communication and the Arts and Social Change and Development and a minor in Women's Studies, was ordained into the ministry of the Moravian Church in North America after completing her Master of Divinity degree studies through Moravian Theological Seminary. Over twenty-five years of experience in individual and community ministries gives Rev. Kemp an informed perception about faith, its implications and struggles in everyday life. Rev. Kemp focuses her work on helping people understand their faith and how faith can become transformational in their lives. Challenge your faith - visit