Your Native Tongue
“How is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language?” – Acts 2:8 (NRSV)
English is the only language that I speak well. (Ask anyone who’s heard my Spanish.) It’s the language I speak. But it is not my native tongue. You and I share this language. But it’s not our native tongue.
In this Pentecost season of church life (the weeks following Pentecost until Advent), I think with a bit of jealousy about the pilgrims in Jerusalem who, thanks to the Holy Spirit, spoke and understood their native tongue fluently. I want this.
Until I realized: maybe our native tongue is something we all can speak, right now. Maybe our native tongue is God’s own language, which is: love.
Your native language is love because that’s all God needs to say to you.
Each and every one of us knows the frustration, the deep disappointment of being misunderstood. It hurts. Its births nearly all conflict.
Here’s what I believe: if they can’t understand you by your words, they will know you by your love. The Holy Spirit is love’s conduit.
If you must know anything, let it be that you know how to love. If you must speak anything, let it be love.
You won’t always have the right words to say. In those moments, turn to your native tongue. You know just what to do.
So beloved, don’t worry about your words. Because when all else fails—love cuts through.
Thanks be to God.
Veni sancte spiritu. Come, Holy Spirit. I’m ready to be known—and understood—by my love. Amen.
Kaji Douša is the Senior Pastor of The Park Avenue Christian Church, a congregation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ, in New York City.