An Update from GC79: Many Languages, One Love

An update from the Rev. Mary Vano:

I remember my first trip to Disney World as a child not so much for the rides, but for the sounds of the people around me.  I had never heard so many different languages being spoken in one place.  Now at the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church, it is a true joy to find in the many different languages spoken a common love for Jesus Christ and our branch of the “Jesus Movement.”

Translation has been a theme of this convention.  The Episcopal Church includes dioceses in 18 countries, including – as of today – Cuba.  Native languages include Spanish, French, and Haitian Creole.  This diversity comes with challenges.  Every resolution must be translated so that deputies and bishops may review them in their own languages.  Interpreters have a big job at this convention.  If you haven’t seen Presiding Bishop Curry’s Spanish translator work alongside him, I recommend you watch his Revival sermon from July 7 – it was great fun!  And with every consideration of the Book of Common Prayer and other liturgical materials, we have to make it possible for these materials to be available in multiple languages.

In addition to these challenges with diverse languages, we have also found a need here for further consideration of the words we use to describe and to worship God, as many express a desire for more expansive, non-gendered language in our common prayer.  I honestly don’t know that we’ll ever find language to adequately express who God is.  (Of course, we’ll spend much time trying!)  But, as with any language translation, the divine is perhaps experienced less in the “right” choice of words, and more in our willingness to listen generously.

This will be an insight that I bring home from General Convention.  I may not speak all the languages of my fellow Episcopalians, and I may not express my love for God with the same words, but where I cannot speak, I can always listen carefully and graciously.  It is in generous listening that I discover the loving, liberating, and life-giving Gospel of Jesus Christ.