Leah Sikes

Designing on the Danube

The Same In Any Language

This morning in church, as we sat worshiping and discussing I began thinking about something that has been in the forefront of my attention since I have been in Vienna. I've always struggled to focus during sermons - really any lecture where I have to listen to someone talk to a group for extended periods of time on a subject, even subjects I'm interested in. Something about how my brain is wired just isn't conducive to listening to long lectures or scholarly thoughts, specifically in group settings. 

You might be thinking "Well, yeah Leah, anyone would have trouble concentrating when the lessons aren't in a language they understand." But that isn't the case - most of the time, the discussions, thoughts and verses are translated into English, and have even been led in English and translated into German. Though, I will admit that the translation makes it more difficult. It's a little like hearing a broken conversation - someone speaks a line or two in German and then someone else translates the same thing into English - it's a back and forth that can be difficult to keep up with. 

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Despite this, I have always thrived during worship time, and my short venture in Vienna has proven to me that my love extends past English worship. A room full of singing really makes me feel the presence of God and feel the church coming together. 

This morning, as I was reflecting on my inability to draw on sermons, I realized that isn't necessarily a bad thing, though I won't stop listening and trying, it just means I hear God in a way that those who relate to the sermons do. I think there are many out there who can relate to this. Honestly, I have always felt a little guilty that I don't enjoy sermons like so many seem to - I am not terribly interested in taking notes on every little thing said. But someone mentioned in church that God didn't call us to be perfect, and while this wasn't the context of their point, I think it applies to this situation. Everyone has their own ways God speaks to them, hopefully in several aspects of their lives (service, hospitality, communion, ministry, relationships, worship, teaching, learning...) and that's okay. Everyone is different and no one is perfect. 

Maybe I do need to work on being more attentive in lessons and sermons - here in Vienna, discussion is a large part of the sermon, and I struggle further with that as talking in groups of people is the last thing I want to do, especially in the morning, especially on my personal thoughts and feelings (I'd rather write about those things). 

This brings me back around to the beginning - I may see my struggle more at the church in Vienna because the language barrier makes it harder to concentrate (and gives me more time to my own thoughts), it also strengthens my love of song and worship. I love people coming together to sing their hearts out to God, even if I don't understand the words, I can feel the sentiment behind it through the people praising. Don't get me wrong, I always enjoy it when I recognize a tune or we sing a song in English, but I equally enjoy the new German hymns.

 Worshiping God is the same in any language.

Leah SikesComment