Missional Musings: 2018’s Word of the Year


December 20, 2018

Not long ago I heard this brief snippet on the radio that the word that’s been chosen to best describe 2018 is “toxic.” I had to find out who said this and why, so I did a little googling online and found that it comes from Oxford Dictionary, who chooses an annual Word for the Year. The report states, “Strictly defined as ‘poisonous,’ Oxford Dictionaries says that its research shows that ‘this year more than ever, people have been using ‘toxic’ to describe a vast array of things, situations, concerns and events.’”* Are you as stricken by this as I am?

Maybe your first reaction is one of denial, rationalizing that it’s limited to certain experiences and events, or the way news is always at our fingertips. Maybe you initially blame a certain arena, such as politics or the media. Perhaps your first reaction is one of sullen agreement, looking around and finding more stress and pessimism.

I guess in some ways, I’m not surprised by the word that was chosen, but I am incredibly saddened, especially as we’re in the season of Advent and leading up to Christmas. The more I think about “toxic” as being the defining word for 2018 though, the more determination I have to live in a way that proves otherwise.

How about you?

I may not be able to change the word of the year, but I am able to be the change I want to see in the world, and so are you.

John 1:5 reads, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness doesn’t extinguish the light.” As we celebrate the birth of Christ, Emmanuel, God with us, we can celebrate the grace, hope and love of God, exemplified through the True Light, through Jesus.

As followers of Christ, we too can share that light. We can take light into the darkness, into that toxicity, and the darkness won’t extinguish the light. In fact, even a little bit of light can seem pretty powerful when it’s surrounded by a lot of darkness.

I encourage you to look for ways to shatter the belief that “toxic” is a good descriptor of the world in which we live. Look for ways to share hope, to extend grace, and to show the light of Christ. If you attend a Christmas Eve service and you participate in the traditional singing of “Silent Night” and light candles around the sanctuary or outside, think about what a powerful impact spreading the light has. Think about what an impact we can make if we all take a moment to share a little light with others.

*Read full report online at https://www.cnn.com/2018/11/14/uk/oxford-dictionary-word-of-the-year-toxic-gbr-intl/index.html