Friday, May 28, 2010

Curse of Babel rolled back

In this week of Pentecost as we approach the Festival of the Holy Trinity, I can't help but reflect on the miracle of Pentecost and the merciful overturning of the curse of Babel.

The Church transcends tribe and tongue, culture and country. We worship the same God and we have worshiped in the same way for hundreds, and in some cases, thousands, of years. One can go anywhere on earth and hear the same liturgy and even the same hymns - though the tongue may well be different.

The above video is from the opening procession of a Lutheran Högmässa (High Mass) in Sweden. The vestments, church architecture, liturgical structure, hymns, and even the order of the Divine Service itself are familiar to nearly all Christians in the world - especially to us Lutherans. The opening hymn is a setting of the ancient Te Deum beloved by Christians from every nation for more than 1,500 years - and it is set to a tune familiar to American Lutherans (Holy God We Praise Thy Name - LSB 940).

Babel's confusion of tongues was overturned by the Holy Spirit's descent upon the disciples in the form of tongues of fire, as well as their ability to preach in foreign languages. Today the One Holy Church proclaims the Gospel in every known language. Today, language is no barrier. And thanks to the liturgy of the church, even without knowing the local language, today, one can still participate in worship no matter where one goes around the globe.

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