Worship In A Language You Don’t Understand
Have you ever been in a gathering of Jesus-followers expressing worship and celebrating God’s goodness in a language that you do not know or in a tradition that you are not familiar with? And after your visit, did you still come out of that experience with a sense of Divine Presence and a touch of the Spirit of God?
One pastor suggested that every Christian makes it a practice to go and “visit a worship service with a different tradition or style than you are used to” (Calhoun 2015:51). I would even go a little further and encourage everyone to seek out a worship celebration where the gathered ones are using a language you do not understand. (Adele Ahlberg Calhoun. 2015. Rev. edition. Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us. IL: IVP Books.)
Our Lectionary Reading for this week (03/12/2023) is from Psalm 95, where the Psalmist is exhorting the readers to make a joyful noise, to come into God’s presence with a grateful heart, and to bow down to the Maker of heaven and earth. On the same breath, the Psalmist reminds everyone to listen to God’s voice and not harden one’s heart—to not follow the example of the people of God. “Don’t harden your hearts as Israel did at Meribah, as they did at Massah in the wilderness. For there your ancestors tested and tried my patience, even though they saw everything I did. (Psalm 95:8-9 NLT).
I think, going to a Christian celebration where the medium is unfamiliar to you, is a good discipline, an excellent practice of reminding ourselves that worship is all about God. This exercise will force us to listen to the Spirit of God. It will be a perfect time to soften our hearts before the Maker of heaven and earth and remember our life of disobedience and surrender them at the feet of Jesus. In these kinds of experiences, we will find rest for our soul and our joyful noise will come straight from our heart and go directly to the heart of God.
So, go and seek out a “worship service” where the gathered ones are singing in a different language and speaking to each other in a tongue you do not understand. God will be with you there and the Spirit of God will be your Interpreter—your Friend and Counselor.
"Drop everything and listen, listen as He speaks." (Psalm 95:7 MSG)