Monday, December 14, 2009

Advent 3: Speaking in (Cantonese) Tongues

This was the week I took a deep breath and finally did part of the liturgy in Cantonese:
Before Holy Communion:
Tjuu yuu leih moon tuhng jeui!   (The Lord be with you!)
and the Words of Institution:
Ngoh Juu yeso bei my dik la yaht yeh... (in the night our Lord Jesus was betrayed...)
and the Benediction:
Yuhn chunglahng dik Juu Seuhngdai, Sihng Fuu, Sihng Tzee, Sing Lihng... (May God bless you, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit...)

My face burned hot as I did it, because I knew I was stumbling and bumbling with these words, even after months of practice.

But I got at least a dozen comments telling me "very good!" on the Cantonese liturgy, and I suddenly got warmer smiles from people of the parish than I've ever gotten before (I've been going there once a month for five months, now).

It was clear to me that my attempt at speaking Cantonese was more important to everybody than my well-crafted sermon -- which had, of course, been given in English.

It goes to show you how important it is for people to hear God's word in their own language, even if (in my case) that language is very poorly spoken.

Another lesson in humility for me.

I guess that's exactly what's behind God humbling Himself & sending his Son into the world as a baby -- the incarnation. There is no more universal language among human beings, than that of a baby, looking with big eyes on a brand new world, and that of a family, celebrating the birth of a child.

Advent blessings to you all!!!

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who being in very nature God... emptied himself  taking on the very nature of a servant, being born in human likeness..."  -- Philippians 2:6-7

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