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Discovering Community in Worship

Dobre Otra! Hola! Hei! That’s “howdy” in Russian, Spanish and Finnish, in case you’re wondering. Pretty impressive, huh?

Not really.

Few things have been more frustrating for me than my failed attempts at learning different languages. While I can spout a few memorized phrases or read a few sentences in Spanish, Russian, Turkish and Finnish, along with some ancient Hebrew and Koine Greek, I’m so far from fluent in any of them. Hell, I still struggle with basic English.

In spite of the best efforts of Senor Borges, my high school Spanish teacher, and all my friends and interpreters in various countries, I’ve never really picked up the local lingo. I’ve never done the one thing that makes learning a language stick: become immersed in it. Every class I’ve taken in the US is full of English-speakers who, remarkably, went back to speaking English as soon as class was over. On my travels, I was usually with a group of English-speakers and almost always had interpreters. I was never forced to learn; I was never really immersed in the culture to the point I didn’t need an interpreter.

I think my experience reflects many people’s experience with church. We have “taken the class” at some point, we’ve spent time there with groups, but we’ve always had interpreters. We’ve never really jumped in long enough to get through the frustrating, constant-mistake-making phase. So we settle for learning a few words and phrases, maybe pick up the accent, but never truly learn the language.

Comprende? Let’s dive in and see what all this means as we continue with our study of Discovering Grace this week.

Grace and peace, y’all,

J. Ray

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