August 2019 - From The Desk of Pastor Matt Ziprick
…those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them, for your accent gives you away.” ~ Matthew 26:73
This summer our family hosted a family reunion on my Mom’s side. There were 54 of us all together. I’d often be up till 2:00 in the morning talking and visiting with cousins and their spouses. After all, we don’t see each other very often being scattered across the globe.
My cousin Emily married an Italian. My cousin Jill married a South African. While each speaks English, there’s a recognizable difference in accent from my American relatives. This differs still from our Canadian accent.
Accents are noticeable but there’s something intangible about them. Try describing an accent if you can’t actually imitate the accent – it requires a certain level of verbal acuity.
Accents announce where we’re from – our origin (like Peter’s Galilean accent as he stood around the fire). In painting, accents highlight what the artist wants most to be noticed and appreciated. In poetry, a certain combination and placement of words accents the poet’s vision.
These subtleties are similar to the life of faith. Two people can say the same thing with a different emphasis. In one case we are captivated. In another, we recoil and we might have difficulty describing the reason. It could be that the faith accent was different. And it could be that our spirit noticed even before our mind did.
It’s interesting that John names Jesus as “the Word.” The Word lived and his whole life carried the accents of grace and truth. Do we notice it? Can we hear it? Will we follow it? The sheep follow the shepherd because they “know his voice.” They’ve gained an appreciation for his accent.
As we gather each week as a family this Fall, we’ll be reflecting on the Accents of Jesus. His accent of life announced his origin is from God. His accents of love and liberty for the oppressed highlighted what is to be noticed. His accents of courage and strength, of Spirit and movement accented the Poet’s vision and direction and purpose.
Looking forward to appreciating Christ’s accents with you. And may the accent of our lives give us away!
You, the great homesickness we could never shake off,
you, the forest that always surrounded us,
you, the song we sang in every silence,
you dark net threading through us.
(Rilke, From The Book of Hours)