Answering God – 40 Days with the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
Day 15 – Friday after 2nd Sunday of Lent
Do you welcome the diversity of culture, language and expressions of faith in our yearly meeting and in the world community of Friends?
Seek to increase your understanding and to gain from this rich heritage and wide range of spiritual insights.
Uphold your own and other yearly meetings in your prayers.
(Advices & Queries #16)
From the Scriptures:
Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, ‘Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.’ All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘What does this mean?’ But others sneered and said, ‘They are filled with new wine.’
The Prayer Book used by the Anglican Church in Southern Africa is published in full in Afrikaans, English, Kwanyama, Northern Sotho, SeSotho, SeTswana, Siswati, Venda, ngesiXhosa, isiZulu. Parts of the Prayer Book are published in several other languages as well.[i]
Leading worship in a multicultural and multilingual society is glorious but may also be somewhat challenging if the language of the congregation is not one of your home languages. Fortunately, whichever version you use the Eucharist always begins on page 109 and the Lord’s Prayer is at the bottom of page 127 so, even if your pronunciation is poor and the language unfamiliar, you still know (more or less) what you are saying.
This was shown none more so than in the evocatively named St John the Divine, Belgravia, Johannesburg where I served my first incumbency. Hymns were sung in English, isiZulu, ngesiXhosa and seSotho all at the same time. Occasionally the words didn’t mean the same but they all used the same tune, and the Lord’s Prayer was sung in whatever language you had to hand.
For the most part this was a glorious outpost of the Rainbow Nation that was to be born after the first Democratic Elections on 26-29 April 1994. Sadly one of my parishioners struggled a little and used to walk out every time what he described as a ‘foreign’ language was used proclaiming, ‘this is the Anglican Church and here we speak English!’ thereby breaching Article XXIV of the Articles of Religion. By the Wednesday of the following week we would have a chat and he promised to try not to get so upset and be a little more understanding and on one wonderful Sunday he and I exchanged the Sign of the Peace with the Zulu words, ‘Ukuthula kweNkosi makube nawe njalo’
The Anglican Church by definition is, or at least should be, inclusive. Since our founding we have legislated for mother tongue worship and encourage local expressions of the Gospel across the Communion asking only that partner churches subscribe to the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral.
In the Church of England we are called to be ministers to and for the polyglot parish and not only the committed congregation and, I am convinced, we are poorer when we do not fling wide the doors of our churches to welcome everyone. In my own parish of Felixstowe we show this by our signing of the Inclusive Church Statement, an obvious (the rainbow flag is flown frequently) welcome of people of all gender identities and sexual orientations, and in our motto ‘Open to God, Open to All’. Sadly the only opposition we have had to our decision to welcome everyone into Christ’s comprehensive love is from other local churches…
I can never quite understand why some religious groups feel they have a monopoly on good works or spiritual truths. When we do that we miss out on so much richness and joy. I find myself in a church with a Liberal Catholic tradition, we have stained glass and gorgeous vestments, incense and processions and lots and lots of candles. However I am blessed to be the Rural Dean for the churches in my area and I occasionally lead worship in anyone of 22 other churches, all wonderfully different and I find deep joy in formal Choral Evensong, Matins in a village church and leading Communion while wearing a hoodie and chinos
Every one of us can find our faith more enriched by the faith of others. No one has anything to lose, we all have something to give, and together we can reflect the love of the Lord God who broke down barriers of race and language on the first Day of Pentecost and continues to do so to this day.
This version of the Lord’s Prayer is in isiZulu.
Don’t worry too much about the pronunciation just feel the words.
Baba wethu osezulwini
Our Father, who art in heaven,
Maliphathwe ngobungcwele igama lakho.
hallowed be thy name;
Umbuso wakho mawufike.
thy kingdom come,
Intando yakho mayenziwe emhlabeni njengasezulwini.
thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven
Awusiphe namhla isinkwa sethu semihla ngemihla.
Give us this day, our daily bread,
Usithethelele izono zethu
and forgive us our trespasses
njengoba nathi sibathethelela abasonayo.
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
kodwa usisindise kokubi.
but deliver us from evil.
1) Read slowly the note from ‘Advices & Queries’ above again
2) Worship in a parish, congregation, or meeting of your own denomination other than your own before Easter
Quotes from ‘Advices & Queries’ are copyright © The Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Britain, 1995, 1997 and 2008
Scripture quotations are copyright © New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
These Reflections, ‘Answering God’ are copyright © Andrew Dotchin 2020 – and may be reproduced without charge on condition that the source is acknowledged
Pax et Bonum
Rev. Andrew Dotchin
Vicar of Felixstowe Town and Rural Dean of Colneys The New Vicarage, 54 Princes Road, FELIXSTOWE, IP11 7PL, Suffolk
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