by Petra Barrientos
Language is a funny thing. These days I think and dream in English. I speak no more than 10 words of German in any given week. And yet, when it comes to Christmas cards, “Merry Christmas” never seems quite right. “Fröhliche Weihnacht,” (which, you guessed it, means the exact same thing in German) on the other hand fits perfectly. Obviously, there is an emotional component to language that can make all the difference.
This year when I signed all my Christmas mail in German, you should’ve seen the responses I got. My friends were wishing me a Merry Christmas in Spanish, Greek, Italian, Mandarin, Korean, French, Dutch. (okay, so I am exaggerating a little, but give it time, it is only the 20th of December!) The point is, “our” language matters to us, it expresses our heart better than any other tongue, no matter how well we may speak it.
And with this in mind, read Acts 2, The Coming of the Spirit. The day of the Pentecost the apostles received the Holy Spirit and “began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (verse 4) Jerusalem at the time was full of “men from every nation under heaven” yet every one of them heard “them tell telling in their own tongues the mighty works of God.” (verses 5 and 11) “And all were amazed and perplexed.” (verse 12)
When I walk into a store and I hear German spoken, I stop in my tracks, I prick my ears and I try to find out where the voice is coming from. I can make out the smallest fragment of a German word in midst of noise and chaos. Like a hound dog. Take it from me, hearing your mother tongue in a foreign country is a big deal, it tugs on your heart strings just like “Fröhliche Weihnacht” does around Christmas time. And if hearing the Gospel immediately after Christ’s death and resurrection wasn’t spectacular enough, hearing it in your own language that nobody around you speaks must have been truly incredible. No wonder they were amazed! And can you imagine the noise level? Countless voices talking over one another, each in a different language, yet everybody heard and everybody understood… and everybody felt that the message was just for him!
I just love God, don’t you? Every which way He can, He makes sure we hear, understand, feel, love and adore Him. He doesn’t want us to miss the tiniest bit of the peace and joy He offers. And so I pray that God will speak straight to your heart this Christmas and beyond, in the language that makes you stop in your tracks and listen! Have a Merry Christmas, Fröhliche Weihnacht, and a blessed New Year!