Acts 2:1-21Â – Pentecost Sunday â€“ for Sunday, May 19, 2013
â€œAnd how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language?â€ (Acts 2:8)
I was born and raised in California where Sacramento, Los Angeles and San Francisco are prominent cities. Rivers flowing within the stateâ€™s borders include the San Joaquin and Merced. The Golden State is famous for the El Camino Real, the wandering trail linking the twenty-one Roman Catholic missions founded by Father JunÃpero Serra between 1769-1823.
History shouts out a lesson in Spanish nearly everywhere you turn in California.
In elementary school, learning Spanish was required. Though not as extensive as the proverbial 3 Rs of reading, â€˜riting and â€˜rithmetic, we studied the language of Father Serra and those famous missions.
I went to school by Sacramento, the town of the sacrament. My grandparents owned a farm near the Merced River, the river of mercy.
I was lousy at Spanish, even after dabbling in it for those elementary years. At most, I can count to ten:Â uno, dos, trace, cuatro, cinco . . .
In middle school, German became an option. I jumped the Spanish ship and boarded the German train. I started well and continued German in high school. My grades plummeted and by my sophomore year, the early As and Bs had devolved into dismal Cs with a glimpse of the basement called D.
Eins, zwei, drei, vier, funf . . . and donâ€™t forget Montag, Dienstag, Mittwoch, Donnerstag, Freitag, Sonnabend and Sonntag. (But please donâ€™t ask me the days of the week in Spanish.)
At the start of college, imagining myself a future attorney, well-educated and well-versed in Latin, I took a class for an immersion in that wonderful, essential dead language. I think my final grade was C+, but only because the professor liked me (and likely pitied me). Donâ€™t ask me to count in Latin, though I can still interpret all of the years of the Super Bowls!
In seminary, my Presbyterian brothers and sisters were required to learn both Hebrew and Greek. Not we weak-willed, my-heart-is-strangely-warmed United Methodists! Back in the day, we only had to survive a solitary semester of one ancient language.
I chose Greek.
Today, I canâ€™t count to one in Greek. Iâ€™m writing the first draft of this essay on a Friday, which in German is Freitag, but in Biblical Greek, today would be . . . well, I have no idea. Maybe once, near the end of my anguished semester of Greek, I couldâ€™ve faked some knowledgeâ€”because I passed the course!â€”but now? Continue reading →