Whisper, whisper... Gossip!

Gossip
God gives us the gift of speech and words so that we can communicate and like all things sometimes we misuse it. 

Gossip is a misuse of God’s gift to us.   It is very rarely used for good. 
Gossip is like a poison, if you accept the gossip as true you are accepting the poison willingly, it poisons the mind and if you spread it the poison has the power to destroy.

That might sound very dramatic, but if you have ever been the target of gossip then you will know that it is true.  Gossip is extremely hurtful, and people who sometimes know better accept it as true.  This can destroy a person’s life, their reputation.  It can hurt the people they love as well. 

I am going to tell you a story.  

A woman went to confession and confessed that she had been gossiping about others.  As her penance, the priest told her to go to the market, buy an unplucked hen, and, on her way home, she was to pluck the hen, feather by feather, and let each feather be carried off by the wind.  She did that, and returned to the priest.  He praised her for her obedience, and he said ‘Now, there’s one more thing to do.  I want you to go back along the road, and pick up every feather belonging to that hen.’  The woman was dumbfounded.  The task was impossible.  By now, the wind had scattered the feathers miles away, out across the country.  ‘Exactly’, said the priest.  ‘Now you see what happens as a result of your gossiping.  It’s impossible to call the words back again, once you sent them on their way.  Be very, very careful what you speak, and, especially what you gossip.  It is always impossible to repair the damage.’

I am not sure who first wrote this story but it illustrates just how dreadful spreading gossip is.

So, when listening listen with compassion and understanding.

Remember you don’t know all the facts.

We need to speak with responsibility and question what we have been told.

Don’t pass the gossip on, but perhaps pray for the person who gave you the gossip – for them to stop and for the person the gossip is about. 

You never know the next lot of gossip could be about you!

For the children:

Children need to learn when they go to school about gossip.. 

Don’t spread what isn’t true about other people – is putting it simply.

Help them to understand what you can say – for example Daniel is off sick because he has a broken arm if you have seen Daniel or if you know it is true.
We can pray for Daniel to get better soon.

But saying that Daniel had a fight with Tom over a football team, Daniel was really violent – is something that might not be true and it could hurt Daniel and Tom. 

Put together some statements – some gossip and some true and see if the children can put them into two piles.  If you have a large enough group split in to two and then discuss the answers after.

A great game (although messy) is to get some feathers (on windy, dry day you could do it outside but you might not get all the feathers back) and walk around the room throwing the feathers in the air.  The children all sit at one end of the room and perhaps you could tell the story of the lady who spread gossip and as you tell it you walk around the room throwing the feathers at the appropriate time.  Then asking the children to go and pick them all up..

When they are all picked up use them to make chickens.

http://www.dltk-kids.com/animals/mplate-chicken.htm



Another game could be Chinese whispers, this illustrates how when things get passed on to other people they sometimes get distorted.

So be careful – if someone says ‘Did you know…..?’ it could be a gossip alert and if you listen to it, don’t pass it on. 

Ask yourself – do I know this is true?

Jesus was someone who had good things said about him.  But also nasty gossip was spread about him as well, things like ‘He is in league with the devil’.  

Eventually that gossip led him to get arrested and crucified.

I used to get told if I have nothing good to say then don’t say it at all.

A good lesson to live by even as an adult.
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About Michelle Bailey

Reverend Michelle Bailey is the Rural Officer for the Bishop of Brecon and Swansea  She previously worked in Children's Ministry and was ordained in the Church of England. Her blog includes ideas on presenting concepts of faith to young children to the age of eleven and furthering faith development in an educational context. Michelle currently lives in Wales and is also developing a rural ministry blog.
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