This is the official introduction to Emmanuel Voices: A Parish Blog. So, I am going to start off by telling a story or two – in my own voice.
(This is also the homily for May 31. And for younger folks here is something new: Story Time: Joani Reads “Horton Hears a Who”)
My dad, Dr. Peacock, was big on comparative languages. Back in the 1940’s while enrolled at Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, he studied all of the romance languages at once. Growing up he told us that in order to understand the world we needed to understand one another’s tongues. So, when any of my brothers or sisters approached him for the definition or proper pronunciation of a word, he would do two things. First, he told us to look the word up in the dictionary. Second, he would invariably ask:
“Quick, quick, what is the same word in Latin, French, Spanish, Italian?”
As an eight-year old I was stumped. But by the time I got to high school my dad’s words inspired me. I went to school alongside classmates from all over the world. (Well, maybe not from all over the world – mostly Europe and South America.) And I wanted to get to know them in their own language.
Not that I was all that successful, but I did take Latin, French and Spanish. And from the latter, the phrase I remember the most from class is: Me aprietan mis zapatos – which literally means: My shoes are squeezing me. Simply put: My feet hurt. 😊
Which surprisingly qualified me for a part time job at a bilingual preschool in Adams Morgan!
I was a teacher’s aide in a classroom full of three-year old’s – whose families hailed from all over Latin America. None of the children spoke a word of English. My very first day on the job, one little boy was particularly antsy at naptime. So, I tried out my high school Spanish.
I asked him his name.
He said, “Pepe.”
“Nice to meet you, Pepe,” I replied. “It’s time to sleep.”
But a very frustrated little Pepe kept repeating his name — trying to make himself understood. I was flailing until finally another teacher came into the room. She took one look at Pepe and asked,
“Guillermo, necitas el bano?” ‘Si, Si,” Guillermo replied and off he ran to the little boys’ room.
And what did this experience teach me? Understanding a new voice requires listening, patience, a willingness to learn, a bit of humility. Being able to laugh at yourself is also a plus. Don’t take yourself too seriously!
Many years later, I went on a Diocese of Virginia mission trip, where we visited a joint Haitian & Dominican congregation. And there I was asked and honored to preach — my one and only ever Spanish — very basic Spanish — sermon.
It essentially echoed the Shrine Mont Shouting Prayer.
Dios es amor. Dios te ama. Yo amo Dios. Dios ama todo el mundo. Jesu Cristo es el corazon de Dios. Amor vive en el corazon de Dios. Amor vive en los corazones de su gente. Dios es amor. Amen.
God is love. God loves you. I love God. God loves the whole world. Jesus Christ is the heart of God. Love lives in the heart of God. Love lives in the hearts of all God’s people. God is love. Amen.
As basic as it was, new friends were made, and new conversations had begun. Learning a little of each other’s language, we were able to hear new voices that we might not have heard from before. It was an eye opening and deeply enriching experience. Ideas were shared and partnerships were formed as we worked together to help build this little church and school in the cane fields of the Dominican Republic.
And this is the segue to the launch of our parish blog: Emmanuel Voices – which we are intentionally debuting on the Feast of Pentecost. The day the Holy Spirit translated God’s love into every human language.
“Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, ‘Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own language?”
I hear your voice. You hear mine. And what we hear in each other’s voices is a gift. Not simply a gift of translated words – but a much deeper gift, the gift of understanding.
A scholar, Lee Ramsey, Jr. wrote:
“All wrapped up in human form, God comes to us in our very own bodies; God speaks to us our very own language(s). In an age of increasing cultural diversity, religious pluralism, and the perpetual rubbing of shoulders across lines of nation, race, and class, God offers authentic human communion. Through ordinary human speech, the Holy Spirit establishes unity in the midst of diversity, the fulfillment of a promise.”
These are challenging times – where you can CAPITALIZE every letter in CHALLENGING. Pandemics are something we learned about in history class. Like the Spanish flu, they belong to the past. Or so we thought. Never has it been more important for us to hear from one another, to listen and learn, to uphold and support, to encourage and connect with one another as the Body of Christ.
This blog aspires to be such a forum – where a wide variety of voices are uplifted and heard. Where the spirit of Pentecost prevails. Here is what it is about.
Welcome to Emmanuel Voices: A Parish Blog
A literary gathering place for —
community & conversation.
A place to listen, learn and explore together —
in challenging times.
With contributions from a variety of voices:
Clergy, staff, seminarians, parishioners, community partners, guest bloggers & more.
Stories, homilies, spiritual reflection, think pieces, poetry, musical offerings, visual art & cultural commentary.
Lifting up voices, familiar and new, from the pews and beyond.
Voices heard in today’s launch come from the clergy (God Is Always Ready to Listen to Us, by Chuck,) (Waiting on Resurrection, by Grace Pratt) and (from me, Joani, Ticked at God: A Prayerbook for the Pandemic, Dressing for a Pandemic & Glorify: A Mixtape for Ordinary Time); from the staff (Reimagining Joy, by Janie Piemonte, our new Parish Administrator); guest blogger (Finding Calm in Covid, by Maddie Mihalich, MSW) and parishioners (Creating Meaning & Casting Out Fear, by Hayes Willingham,) (Liturgy, Sticky to the Soul, by John Willingham,) (Grieving for Strangers, by Margaret Wohler,) and (Nature in the Neighborhood, by Beth Boland.)
Uploaded into Emmanuel Voices also are the previous Emmanuel at Home Morning Prayer homilies, musical offerings and articles. Going forward, new ones will be posted here.
And here you are! If you are listening and scrolled down this far, you are literally inside blog itself. So, to help you navigate around…
At the top of the homepage, you can search “voices” by category: clergy, staff, seminarians, parishioners, guests.
Scroll down to the “Tag Cloud,” and you can search more specifically by clicking on any tag: liturgical season, date, name of author, etc. You can also search by keyword, as well as, explore the archives.
At the bottom of each blog post are share options: Facebook, Twitter, email and old-fashioned print.
To stay in touch, click “Contact” to email me – the editor. Here you can provide feedback, share your ideas, and maybe even volunteer your own voice for future posts!
To make it easy to find, a link to Emmanuel Voices is now on the parish website’s homepage, included in the Thursday weekly e-news, and in each Sunday’s Emmanuel at Home Morning Prayer. You can also click on “follow” to receive posts via email.
If you have any questions, please reach out.
Emmanuel Voices: A Parish Blog is now officially launched!
— Joani Peacock, May 2020
The Rev. Joani Peacock, Editor for Emmanuel Voices: A Parish Blog