As I write this I’m still in Arizona enduring the hot weather and too much sunshine.
But by the time you read this, that will have all changed as I end up this week in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, where it is way cooler, to prepare me to arrive back in Brechin shortly.
It has been an interesting time finding out that Scottish skin doesn’t stand a chance against the Phoenix sun. Sun burn is not fun.
I got to go into the desert on the quads with my uncle and it was amazing to see a different view of God’s creation. Instead of the cool and damp of Scottish landscape this was hot and dusty with cactus that stood 30 feet tall and over 300 years old so I was told. But to see thousands of these majestic trees of the desert was impressive.
Another of my adventures on this journey was preaching to a Spanish speaking church here in Phoenix. I must say it was a flashback to years ago when I worked with Mexican guys while doing construction on high rise buildings in Dallas back in the 80’s. But it didn’t take long for me to realise any semblance of my ‘Spanish’ to the real thing was only in my imagination.
It was also eye opening to see how people who are from outside a culture with a different language must find it as they come into a different country and interact with that culture.
The only thing that saved me was a bonnie lass that was able to interpret for me. Oh boy did she have her work cut out trying to figure out my Texas drawl mixed with Scottish words and take that and turn it into Spanish. Of course my joke about ‘why it is called a Kilt because many a man has been kilt for calling it a skirt’ was completely lost in translation. Not one single laugh.
Despite that language barrier there was still a connection because of our common faith.
But I thought to myself as I sat and listened to them talk in Spanish and tried to talk in my very limited vocabulary that there was a massive gap and I asked myself - what gap is there as I try to communicate the things that mean a lot to me?
I so often try to say things in the language of ‘church’ and Christian faith and often I seem to hit a wall of misunderstanding between what I say and what others hear.
1 Corinthians 2:13-16 says: “These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For “who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.”
While this explains some of the challenge it reminds me once again after my experience with the Spanish church folk that I need to keep working on my communication skills. This should be fun.
Wonder what I’ll sound like after being in Wisconsin for a week,
Rev. Jon Bergen
Brechin Baptist Fellowship