P. has been visiting my congregation in Los Angeles while he is here on business from China. He attends another RP church in China and his English is not very good; it's less than not very good. Throughout the day he seemed lost, struggled through conversations, was clearly uncomfortable culturally. Lunch was difficult for him. The worship service was familiar, but not in Mandarin.
During the second service, I handed P. a Mandarin version of the The Book of Psalms for Worship that I keep in my study. It is the same book that we use in worship: same tunes, same Psalms, different language.
P.'s eyes largely widened, a smile grew upon his face, and he pointed to the song book over and over.
"We use this!"
"We use this!"
(I knew that; that's why I gave him a copy).
It was a joy to watch him participate in our worship. It was a joy for him to have a connection to our worship. It was a joy to welcome him as a brother. It was joy watching him relax; in many ways it was the first thing that made him feel at home.
The Psalms are the common language of the universal church. Mandarin to English; tenth century BC to twenty-first century AD; young to old; chants to four part-harmony. The church has had one song book since the time of King David; P. and I experienced that today in our eye contact, smiles, and songs.
Sing the Psalms... in whatever language.
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