Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: ‘Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language?
Acts 2: 5-8
Today, as every Welsh person knows, is St David’s day. David was born at the start of the 6th Century and today is thought to be the day of his death – even though we’re not very sure the year in which he died. David was called to be a bishop in Wales; he’d been a monk, was the son of a saint and grandson of a king (though in that age kings were more like war lords). David’s task was to help the Welsh people know and love God and to follow the teachings of Jesus. He relied on the monastic tradition of the Eastern Church and, it seems, may have been resistant to following Roman ways. In the years after his death he caught the imagination of the Welsh and is, perhaps, the best known of the Welsh saints.
On the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit enabled people from many nations and races to hear the praise and works of God in their own language. This gave birth to the Church and the Holy Spirit still energizes us to reach out and proclaim the works of God in ways that people may hear and understand. Of course that still involves translation of the Bible and other texts but it’s more than that. In the UK we have the vast majority of the population being unconnected with the Church, unable to comprehend what we proclaim (and there the fault may be ours) and seeing us as, at best, well meaning custodians of interesting buildings and values or, at worst, as being oppressive. Long ago David was called to make the faith accessible to his people; in our own age we are called to do the same so that our people may hear the Gospel in their own language, culture and context.
long ago you inspired David to follow you
and teach your people of your love and longing;
inspire us to see you at work in our world,
enable us to connect with where you are working,
and give us the grace to see how best to proclaim you
in our lives and our words.
Andy Braunston is the North Western Synod Clerk and is preparing for URC ministry at the Scottish College
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