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Discerning the Language of God 

scrabble letters 397 SXFollowing the recent Pentecost celebrations, Rev Andrew Bryant reflects upon the ways in which God connects with us in the twenty-first century.

At the Bishop’s Pilgrimage Day at Norwich Cathedral on the Saturday before Pentecost, Bishop Graham told the story of a young Welsh girl living in London, who used to get up early each Sunday morning and travel to the other side of the city to attend a Welsh speaking church.  A friend, anxious to save her this long journey, gently reminded her that God was not Welsh and that she could just as easily attend an English speaking church just around the corner.  The girl replied, “I know, but Welsh is the language in which God speaks to me.”
At the first Pentecost, all those gathered in the streets were amazed because they heard God speaking to them in their own language.  Although the writer of the Acts of the Apostles lists all the different nations gathered, there is something even more profound happening here.  God is not just speaking to them in a language they understand but also in a way they understand.
Within the English-speaking Churches, God speaks to us in different ways.  Some are caught up in the glories of the King James Bibles whilst for others God comes alive when they read the Street Bible.  Some find worship in a beautiful choral anthem whilst others are enraptured by the latest worship song.  But whether we come from an inherited or a contemporary tradition, we all need to recognise that increasingly the Church has no language in common with the majority of the population. 
For a variety of reasons and in a variety of ways, the Church, despite its many forms, has become disconnected from the majority of people.  Neither the re-emphasis of the traditional not the search for the ever more contemporary, will in and of itself, help us re-connect.  The reconnection with those for whom the words of faith have become a foreign language, depends on our willingness to come alongside people where they are, to be interested in the things they are interested in, to listen to their needs and support them in their struggles.  Only out of the relationships that then may emerge might we begin to find a new language in which the voice of God may once again be heard.
Each generation needs its own Pentecost and, just may be, in our own time, this will not happen in the spaces we call church, nor with wind and fire, but in the places where people are already living out their lives and to the soundtrack of their daily routine. It is there that the language will be discerned in which God can speak to them – and us.
Letters image is courtesy of Marco Michelini at http://www.freeimages.com/

Andrew BryantCFThe Revd Andrew Bryant has recently been appointed as the new Canon for Mission and Pastoral Care at Norwich Cathedral. He was previously Team Rector of Portishead, Bristol, in the Diocese of Bath and Wells, and has served in parishes in the Guildford and Lichfield Dioceses, as well as working for twelve years with Kaleidoscope Theatre, a charity promoting integration through theatre for young adults with Down’s Syndrome.
You can read Andrew's latest blog entry
here and can follow him via his new Twitter account @AndyBry3.

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