These past monts, as I’ve been preparing to preach each week, I’ve noticed that my preaching has changed. The biggest difference is that I am preaching in Spanish. Though still not perfect, it has definitely improved since March. I do sometimes still stumble as I wonder if a verb should be preterite or imperfect. I’m learning vocabularly more appropriate on the border–different from the Iberian textbook Spanish or the Nuevayorquino phrases I picked up on internship.
Most notably, however, preaching in my non-native language has helped me be more biblical. Preaching in English, I have a pretty good command at being creative with words and sentences. I have a grasp at popular culture, and have included quotations and references to all sorts of novels, movies and internet memes. I just can’t do that in Spanish. I don’t know lots of puns in Spanish. I don’t watch enough Univision to make clever connections between some deep thelogical concept and an episode from a telenovela.
If I were preaching this weekend in English, with the story of the stoning of Steven and Peter’s living stones, I would rock. I would make a few geology jokes. It would be gneiss and you wouldn’t take it for granite.
I can’t do that in Spanish. I don’t have the language skills to make puns, and I’m still learning a lot about cultural stuff. If I were to quote a John Denver song or a Morgan Freeman movie, or Dr. Seuss story, my congregation might not have any frame of reference with it. I’m still trying learn the experience here.
The one thing that we do have in common is the biblical story. Rather than trying to fluff up a sermon with cute pop culture references, I simply stay with the Bible. In the ELCA, there’s been lots of talk recently about the Bible as “the first language of faith.” Even though my congregation and I come from very different backgrounds, we share an encounter with God’s word. As we study and proclaim it together, we enter into that old, old story.
It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted here. I’ve been busy with ministry stuff: Holy Week, Synod Assembly, and starting to think about VBS. There are a few more ways to keep connected about life at San Lucas:
Our new web page: www.sanlucaseaglepass.org