Posts Tagged ‘Language’

The language of church

Sunday 20 April 2008

Our church at the moment is an Anglican church, which can mean a variety of things, but in our case means it’s quite traditional. In an average morning service, there are probably 5 words that I can only guess their meaning from the context, and dozens of others that I wouldn’t hear during the rest of the week.

And the idea of using different vocabulary in church to the rest of life isn’t confined to traditional churches. We were listening to a sermon online today from a church that is very alive and fruitful in many ways, but some of the words used probably hadn’t been used in regular English conversations for well over 100 years.

Why do we do this? Why do we use special old words when we’re talking to God that we would never use if we were talking to our next door neighbour? I’m not sure, but here’s some possible ideas:

  1. We think that God understands old words better. God is old. He’s been around for thousands of years – maybe he’s like our great-grandparents and longs for the good old days. Maybe if we use old words we’ll get his attention and he’ll really understand us.
  2. We’re used to using a Bible with old words. Since God speaks to us in old English, it’s only fair to reply in the same language.
  3. We want to impress other people. If God speaks old words and we do too, maybe people will be impressed that we’re close to God and know his “lingo”…
  4. We’re scared to use the same language in church as we do in the rest of our lives. If we do, that will mean that the rest of our lives are actually connected to what we do in church and we’ll have to give our whole lives to God, not just Sunday mornings.

Are there other (more genuine) answers I’ve missed? I’d love to know, because there are people who are much more godly than me, who I really respect as Christians, who use old English words. Am I missing out on something because I only use simple words…?

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An out of context visit

Saturday 29 March 2008

Source: WikipediaYesterday, Mark and I were very happy to have some American friends passing through who we know from Tanzania. It was great to see them in England and it really reminded us of Tanzania… Hot weather, Swahili, other friends from the Uganda-Tanzania SIL Branch. It makes us miss many things about Africa. This morning we woke up thinking about Tanzania and I had Mark teach me a few more words in Swahili.. Mti (tree)… Mguu (leg)… Mkono (arm)… Mji (town)… Mlango (door)… Mfereji (trench)… And if you add m- + refu after any of these, you have a ‘long/tall’ nown. Like Mti mrefu = ‘tall tree.’ It did my heart good to connect with Africa this morning, even if through saying simply ‘Mifereji mitano mirefu’ – ‘five long trenches.’