Monday, December 14, 2009

God, who created every people, and nation, and language

Perhaps I should entitle this
"My Italian Grandparents"

I tried out a couple of different churches while in college, and one of my pastors said something insightful that is relevant to how we pray. After the sermon, I told him something I'd heard once about shameful divisions within Christendom, and too many denominations and so forth. While he didn't have a lot of time at the end of the service to discuss this with me, he did take the time to point out that many of the denominations actually enrich our understanding of God's truth, in that they illuminate our understanding of what Scripture teaches. He had attended a well-known a conservative seminary in the South, so of course he wasn't referring to anything that was clearly against the teaching of Scripture. But his wisdom has helped a lot when thinking of what divides us, or seems to, when we pray.

. In my tradition, group prayer was a “Prayer Meeting” and prayers were simultaneous, and usually out loud, so while we may have heard one another's voices, we weren't really listening to one another. This is fine, if each person was seeking God in an expectant atmosphere, as in Acts 2. But it inadvertently led to carelessness in one's choice of words; it was easiest just to repeat what others were saying, especially if they themselves were being repetitive. Furthermore, we were in reaction to liturgical worship, so anything that sounded like a crafted prayer was quietly frowned upon—even if it was just a quotation of the church's prayer book, the Psalms!

. Thus, even a public prayer during Sunday worship, usually by an elder or a deacon, was unlikely to be memorable—except for a pious old saint who prayed in Italian, his one recognizable word sounding like “City JAIL-uhh.” Perhaps he was always interjecting two words in English (on behalf of his friend who had to sober up every Saturday night in a cell, sort of like Otis in the Andy Griffeth Show?) More likely, this was a four syllable Italian word that he found quite useful as he poured out his heart to the God who created every people, and nation, and language.

He and his wonderful wife (who gently chided me as “my little bambino” whenever I would sneak up on the platform to play after the service) are looking down on us from Heaven as we pray. As much as I'm looking forward to hugging them again, and finishing my Italian lessons, it will be nothing compared to the unity and awe we will share as we cast our crowns before Him in eternal praise, with all the saints from every age.


Tay Tay said...

Interesting, I love the image at the end of all of us before God with the saints from every age. In case I forget to say this later, Merry Christmas.

joyful-reality said...

Thanks for your comment, especially since the ending was one of the last things I changed!
Blessings for a Merry Christmas,