Heart Language

Sometimes the Episcopal Church is seen as an “English” church.  Years ago Clay Morris of the Episcopal Church Center told Nancy and I that 35 different languages are used in Episcopal worship in  the Diocese of Los Angeles.  We are no longer the English descendants at prayer.  We represent  many nations.  It is most appropriate that at the liturgies of General Convention 2012 each service has used a language in addition to English for our worship. Today it was several languages of our Native American peoples; other days it has been the Hmong language of S.E. Asia, Spanish, or French used for readings, prayers, part of the Great Thanksgiving, or the blessing.

My reaction is mixed when familiar portions of the service was being spoken in a language that was not mine. I deeply appreciate the reason for doing it and support it wholeheartedly. But I also found that I deeply  wished it was in my language.  Even people who are fluent in several languages have what linguists call a “heart language”. This is the language that resonates deepest within us, that speaks to our heart as well as our head when we hear it or use it.

Christian have a heart language that is not related to any grammar, verbs or syntax. The heart language of the Christian is love. And that speaks to all of our hearts and allows us to be open and generous with others who may differ in language, culture and understandings from us. May we each and all continue to speak from our Christian heart language.


About don

The Rev Don Hill is an Episcopal priest, rail fan and writer. He and his wife the Rev. Dr. Nancy Woodworth-Hill are currently Co-Pastors of St Paul's Episcopal Church, Jeffersonville IN, in the Diocese of Indianapolis. They also work as parish consultants in Appreciative Inquiry, strategic planning and spirituality development for parishes and vestries.
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