Our Language is a Gift

Hello, Amazing and Wonderful Grace People! You know what’s great? Being able to talk to you, hear you, write words to you, read your words…

It sounds silly when I say it that way, I know. We take words for granted. But I was reminded how amazing language is at our Renewing Worship meeting last month. Because as soon as we started reading “God and the Language of Worship” (From Principles of Worship, available in the Fellowship Hall) the first principles we read were about how GOD speaks, and gave language to us to DO things with! We were reminded that “God calls the church into being and gives us language to praise and pray, witness and serve for the life of the world.”

Think about that: our language is a gift that we use in order to carry out the mission of God! We have this gift of language to talk to God, and to tell God’s love to people, and invite them to follow!

I loved starting this way, because it felt freeing and wonderful- our words for worship are not heavy, hard things that we’re stuck with, but language is a good gift and a tool that we can use to do good things with! Even in worship! And it gives us permission to figure out the *best* ways to use that tool. And the tool is GOD’s gift, so we can count on God helping us know how to use it well!

We’re just beginning this conversation about how to use language well in worship. We talked at our last meeting about how “The Holy Spirit creates the unity of Christ church among person of diverse languages as a sign of God’s wide embrace. The church at worship uses many languages.” Worship is beyond any of our own languages- people in all cultures have things in common- reading Scripture, communion, singing, etc, but we also each worship in our own context- our own cultural music, symbols, words, etc. Yet we’re also called to worship with people in other cultures, and sometimes even against the grain of our own culture! I think about how we sometimes sing in other languages- sometime languages like Spanish that are native tongues for some of us but not others, sometimes in Swahili, not because anyone speaks it, but because it is good to know we are worshipping the same God as brothers and sisters across the world!

Then we read “The language of worship embodies God’s mercy and justice, forming us as merciful and just people.” How cool! The language we use in worship can change us! Of course, that’s probably why we care so much about what words we use. This principle challenges us to think about, for example, language that expresses mutuality with people of all nations and cultures, rather than language that sounds like domination, division, or triumphalism.

I, personally, was challenged to remember the way language sometimes unintentionally divides us. One of the Sendings that I have liked is “Go in Peace, Remember the poor,” because I believe it is a Christian duty to make sure that everyone is fed and everyone has homes. But I didn’t notice how language like that implies that everyone inside the church building has enough, and that the poor are only “out there.” When I realized this, I decided to stop using that language, because I know that Grace has people of many socio-economic situations, and we value all of them!

This Monday we’ll be talking more about language: how God is present in yet deeper than our language, how Worship is more than words, and then lot’s about Scripture in worship. I think you should come, talk with us! Because talking together is wonderful!

-Pastor Lura