Interpretation of Tongues
I have some background in Pentecostalism (Assembly of God late 70's & early 80's) which sometimes manifests in an Evangelical bent (although my immersion in Anglicanism since birth tends, I like to believe, to keep me grounded in reality). Thus, any thought or conversation around the gift of tongues links me into the early church experience and what is often referred to as "glossolalia". This Pentecost season has drawn me to the Genesis account of Babel, where God confuses language because a common language became a force for human communal self-interest. In the light of this the Acts reading takes on new meaning: it is the gift (lost at Babel) of being able to communicate with all people, restored in order to make God and his activities known, to glorify God and not human community - and thereby gifting us to fulfil the Great Commission.
Further, my insight this season, is that this gift is not primarily about "foreign" or "angelic" languages, but about interpersonal communication and helping people to understand each other. We often speak the same language but mean very different things, or even more confusingly, only slightly different things. Body language, tone, attitude, worldview, theological outlook - all confuse our communication with each other. This is specifically true in our African context where many of us use the English language to communicate, but because it is often our second, third or even fourth language, our communication is often torpedoed before we even begin. In today's increasingly global, multi and differently cultured environment we need the "Interpretation of Tongues" just to interpret what someone else is saying in the same language! Our backgrounds, experience, insight are all used by God in this particular manifestation of the gifting of God's people by God.
Sermons (click on the highlighted words below)
I have uploaded two sermons, one a more lengthy exposition on my first point above, and the other a briefer reflection shared at the evening Chapel Service at St Alban's College in Pretoria. that reflects more fully on my second point above, with specific reference to parent / teenager miscommunication!
1 June 2007