Thumbs, Tones And Togetherness
There’s a “thumbs up’ emoji that we often use when texting. It was originally available only in a Homa Simpson yellow but then later a whole spectrum of skin tones were added, all the way from vanilla white to dark chocolate brown. With such inclusive variety now available, I often find it strange that many people still opt to use the yellow option. It’s almost as if it’s impolite or political to use the emoji that represents your natural skin tone, so the easy thing to do is to stick with what’s safe and commonly accepted as neutral. Yet if the hue of our skin is given of God, should we be dulling it down?
In my nation South Africa, we have 11 official languages. English happens to be our lingua franca even though it’s a second language to the majority of the population. In our context when we refer to multi cultural worship we often mean people from different cultures and ethnicities worshiping together in English. I don’t think this is wrong, I just think it’s safe. It’s like painting with the same colour over and over again when you have a pallet with an assortment of colours at your fingertips. We can all agree that in incorporating more colours we have greater opportunity to paint something more glorious, however it would take a bit more thought, sketching, planning and a lot more cleaning up. But in the end it would be a glorious work of art.
We are called in Philippians 2:3 (ESV) to “ Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves,” which means sometimes putting our preferences aside for the sake of our brothers and sisters. With this in mind, I don’t think that when believers from multicultural or multilingual backgrounds gather together that they expect everything to be tailored to their preferences, however I do believe that giving people an opportunity to meet with God in a familiar and personal way, even if only for one moment, makes a world of difference. It makes people feel like their unique colour has been used in the painting of a masterpiece of corporate worship to the God of all people.
To be honest, I don’t know what our corporate gatherings will be like in heaven, what songs will be sung, who will sing when, how and with whom. I do know though that every nation, tribe and tongue with be represented, offering the praises of a thousand generations in a thousand tongues to the Lamb who sits upon the throne. And it definitely won’t look like a Simpsons Family Reunion.
Here is a song from Langa's community in Johannesburg, South Africa, and an opportunity for you to worship in another language. This song is written in Zulu and Tswana.
Nkosi Yezulu (King Of Heaven)
Siyakhothama (We bow down)
Njengengelosi ezulwini (Like an angel in heaven)
Siyazithoba (We humble ourselves)
Phambi kwaBaba (Before our father)
Thina sithi (We say)
UyiNkosi yezulu (You are the king of heaven)
UnguMdali walomhlaba (You are creator of this earth)
Ubusa phans’ naphezulu (You reign below and above)
Konke kumi ngawe Baba (Everything holds together in you father)
Rea kgumama (We bow down)
Le mangeloi legodimo (With the angels and all heaven)
R’a ikokobetsa (We humble ourselves)
Pele haNtate (Before our father)
Rona rere (We say)
Kgosi ya magodimong (King of the heavens)
O Mohlodi wa lefatshe (You are creator of the earth)
O rena fatsh’ legodimo (You reign below and above)
Tsohle di ka wena Ntate (Everything holds together in you father)
Oa halalela (You are glorious)
Oa halalela (You are glorious)
Haleluya, rea go boka! (Hallelujah, we thank you)
Haleluya, siyakudumisa (Hallelujah, we praise you)
Ngcwele, ngcwele, ngcwele ….
(Siphilela wena – We live for you)
(Siphakamisa wena – We lift you up)
(Nguwe wedw’ onamandla – You alone are have power)
(Nguwe wedw’ olungile – You alone are good)
(Umile njalo – You stand forever)