Why do we sing songs in Spanish?

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Why would we not?

Over the last few months, Restoration has added three or four songs with Spanish lyrics to our canon of music.  Generally, we have chosen one each Sunday and sung it during the offertory.  Some of you have loved doing familiar songs with Spanish lyrics.  Some of you have wondered why this is happening.  Here are three reasons that are informing this practice:

It is Biblical.

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

Revelation 7: 9-10

As followers of Jesus who submit to the Scriptures, we have a long-used methodology for determining best practices:  protology and eschatology.  How did things begin (protology)?  How will things end (eschatology)?  As Christians, want to be moving either towards the way things were intended to be or the way things will be.

Revelation 7:9-10 gives a vivid description of the way things will be.  There will be multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-lingual worship of the Lamb who was slain for all peoples.  Consequently, we seek a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-lingual worship service in the present because we know that it is ‘the telos’, ‘the end’, ‘the eschaton’, ‘the goal’ to which we are headed.  Singing a familiar song with Spanish lyrics is a SMALL step towards the rich tapestry of linguistic diversity that we will enjoy in the age to come. 

Similarly, Revelation 19:9 says, “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.”  The ‘marriage supper of the lamb’ is the telos (the end) to which our current Eucharist points.  We eat a bite of bread and take a sip of wine in anticipation of the FEAST we will enjoy in the age to come.  Our eschatology (FEASTING) determines our present practice (TASTING).

It is kind.

Kind means “having or showing a friendly, generous, and considerate nature.”  There are people in our congregation for whom Spanish IS their heart language, their first language.  When we sing familiar songs with Spanish lyrics, there is an ease and comprehension that opens for them that is not available when we only sing songs in English.  As majority English speakers, we extend ourselves to our brothers and sisters whose first language is not English when we sing songs that our less comfortable for us and more comfortable for them.  It is kind.

It represents who we want to be.

According to Statistical Atlas,

“14.1% of the total population living in Arlington County live in households where Spanish is spoken at home.”

According to Data USA,

“Arlington County, VA is home to a population of 223,945 people… The ethnic composition of the population of Arlington… is composed of:

  • 141,107 White residents (63%)
  • 34,629 Hispanic residents (15.5%)  (This is supported by the U.S. Census bureau which puts the population at 15.4% as of July 2016.)
  • 22,085 Asian residents (9.9%)
  • 18,584 Black residents (8.3%)
  • 5,777 Two+ residents (2.58%).

The most common foreign language in Arlington County is Spanish (29,482 speakers).

Restoration wants to love our neighbors and look like our neighborhoods.  We want to welcome anyone who is curious about Jesus and what it means to follow Him as the One who forgives our sins and leads our life.  To that end, we want our liturgy, our music, our volunteer opportunities, and our teaching to be accessible to all of our neighbors in all of our neighborhoods.

Are we there yet?  Not.  Even.  Close.

Can we do it by ourselves?  Never.

We will need to partner with our brothers and sisters in other churches across our region.  We will need to keep looking for the courageous steps that our particular congregation can take.  We will need to embrace uncomfortable.

So the next time you see Spanish lyrics, try this:

  1.  Say a quick prayer of thanks for all the people and households in our neighborhoods who speak Spanish.  We are so glad they are near us.
  2. Choose a language to sing.  We will always put English and Spanish on the slide.  Choose what feels right to sing so that you can worship.  You are worshiping God and he can sort out multiple languages at the same time.  No sweat.
  3. Consider taking a risk from time to time and singing the lyrics that are less familiar to you.
  4. Pray for the people standing around you that they would be the light of Christ to all the peoples in their neighborhoods.

For Me?  Well, so far I have stumbled through my Spanish during those songs.  Every time.  But as I bump along, embracing uncomfortable, I am so grateful that my voice gets drowned out by the volume of others singing next to me.  So grateful that we are a community.  I am so grateful to be in a community that is being kind and welcoming and hospitable.  I am grateful for really small steps that demonstrate trust in God and partnership in his mission.  And I look forward to that gigantic multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-lingual worship of the Lamb in the age to come.

-David

 

The Corinthian Correspondence

 

Writing a Letter

2018

Happy New Year!  Restoration is starting a new sermon series and working our way through St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians.  Make sure you read the first 2 sections of this post….

Why would you want to do that?  (Don’t you know that it’s long and says true things that lots of people find offensive. #spoileralert)

Well, there are actually several reasons that this book seems really good for who Restoration is at this point in time:

  1. First, I am very grateful for our hard work in Jeremiah all fall.  We got our heads and heart around a big, mildly unfamiliar story.  As we seek to cover all of the Scriptures, it’s a good time to pivot to the New Testament and young churches that were getting started.
  2. It’s been a while since we worked through an epistle (a letter) and a while since we have worked through an entire book from start to finish.  Let’s take that on this year!
  3. The issues they were dealing with in Corinth are raw and connected to the things we are dealing with at Restoration and in our world today:  the foolishness of faith in the Gospel, discerning what is real wisdom and real prosperity, the consequence of identifying ourselves with our leaders (or not), sexual purity, lawsuits, the role of men and women in the church and in the home, spiritual gifts and how the Holy Spirit manifests in our worship, getting drunk at the Eucharist, marriage, not marriage, temptation and idols and rights and eating meat.  As relevant as this morning’s headlines in the Post.
  4. I appreciate that the church in Corinth was young, freshly planted, and messy.  Their questions are good things for Restoration and Incarnation to consider while we are still together (one being about 10 years older than the other…)

Small Groups

As always, we will have 30 small groups starting up with about half of them talking about the passages from 1 Corinthians.  Registration opens on Sunday, January 7 and I hope that everyone who worships with us on Sunday will be actively involved in a Resto small group during the week.  It’s the best place to get to know people, to pray together, and to wrestle through how these truths in the Scripture affect our hustle and bustle life.

Ken Bailey

Feel free to skip this last section, I just want to give a shout out to one of the names you will hear me frequently quote during this series:  Ken Bailey.  He is a preeminent author and scholar in Middle Eastern New Testament Studies.  He teaches in English and Arabic and has written some of the most helpful stuff available for understanding First Century culture.  His book, Paul through Mediterranean Eyes, has been so helpful to my preparation for this series.  The book is almost 600 pages and heavily focused on Hebrew rhetorical style-  so not light reading.  But as appropriate, I will share helpful sections.

I love the way he describes himself:

Every commentator on the Scriptures writes in a context and out of a series of deep commitments.  I am a confessing Christian with a high reverence for the Bible as the inspired Word of God, which I approach with awe and gratitude.  Many of the ideas in this work come out of the non-Western world and have been presented by me in Arabic and in English to numerous audiences around the globe for more than 40 years…  I am writing for native English speakers, but also looking to the new Global South where the majority of the world’s Christians now live.”

His hermeneutical methodology helps us appreciate the logic and coherence of the book.

The view presented in this study is that 1 Corinthians has a carefully designed inner coherence that exhibits amazing precision in composition and admirable grandeur in overall theological concept…  the outline is as precise as any of Paul’s letters and it falls into 5 carefully constructed essays…

  1. The Cross and Christian Unity 1:5-4:16 (Epiphany)
  2. Men and Women in the Human Family 4:17-7:40 (Lent)
  3. Food offered to Idols (Christian and Pagan) 8:1-11:1  (post-Easter)
  4. Men and Women in Worship 11:2-14:40  (Autumn)
  5. The Resurrection 15  (Autumn)

As you look at those 5 essays, we discover that 3 principle ideas were on Paul’s mind as he wrote the letter:

  1. The Cross and Resurrection [1 and 5]
  2. Men and Women in the human family and in worship [2 and 4]
  3. Christians living among pagans:  to identify or not to identify [3]

It is my hope that this letter will increase our love for Jesus and His Church while also filling us with joy and hope as we live in this age and wait for the age to come.

Looking forward to it,

David

How Can I Pray for You?

cold winter

Each year, in January, I take a few days to pray for Restoration and to plan our preaching series.  I get out of town where I can be still and quiet and alone.  I look forward to this opportunity to connect with God about you and what He is doing in our church.  It will happen during the week of January 7.

I would be honored to pray for the needs and concerns that are most pressing to you.  Would you be open to sharing them with me?

This is the link where you can share your prayer request.

Your confidentiality is important and I will be the only one who sees these requests.  In addition, you will have a choice to share them anonymously or to indicate your name so that I can pray for you personally.  Totally up to you.  God knows what you need.

“I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was give you in Christ Jesus…”  1 Corinthians 1:4

 

Grateful to be one of your pastors,

David

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