Week of: June 9, 2019
Scripture: Acts 2:1-21
(The disciples) were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. … And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. ... (They said), "How is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? ... In our own languages, we hear them speaking about God's deeds of power."
(Acts 2:4, 6, 8, 11b, NRSV)
The reading from Acts 2 is the familiar story of Pentecost, the experience of God’s Word reaching mind and heart in the places of deep understanding.
Translating and communicating the Good News into multiple languages is the holy work of worship artists. Through our liturgical leadership, we facilitate the hearing of the Word across differences of age, situation, culture, and life circumstance. Using languages — color and texture, sound and silence, movement and stillness, word and music — we bring multiple expressions of the biblical text to the gathered assembly who speak a variety of languages, both literal and metaphoric.
Our congregations have members whose heart language is aural — who long to hear God’s message of love in music and to respond in songs of praise and hymns of the spirit. There are those who hear most deeply through tactile or kinesthetic experience, moving to the table or the font, dancing, kneeling, touching. There are others who receive and respond to the Word through visual telling in banners, stained glass windows, or the architecture of the space itself. All these people long to hear and understand in their own language.
We are gifted with the languages of worship, the artistic tools of ministry. As we plan and lead, may we use the full range of liturgical expression to tell the Good News.
O God, through the Spirit you spoke the first Word,
and the whole order came into being;
speak again through the arts we bring to worship,
that all might know and tell of your powerful and loving deeds,
in the name of Jesus, Word made flesh. Amen.
Associate Dean Emerita for Worship and Music
Associate Professor Emerita in the Practice of Liturgy and Music
Candler School of Theology, Emory University
Photo: Members of the dance ensemble assist in the recession of the worship elements during closing worship at Music & Worship Arts Week 2018. (Fellowship photo by Daniel Craig.)