Monday, September 18, 2017

Why Jesus Likes SSL

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



"How wonderful and beautiful when people get along and live together!"

Psalm 133


"God doesn't show partiality to anyone because God doesn't have favorites...Words
like Jewish and non-Jewish, religious and irreligious, insider and outsider,
uncivilized and uncouth, slave and free, mean nothing.  From now on,
everyone is defined by Christ and everyone is included in Christ."



"God loves the world."



    Having developed academic proficiency in Latin, German, and French while picking up some parchments in America and Europe, I said to the seminary's academic dean, "I think Spanish will be a lot more helpful to me in ministry than Hebrew.  I can understand the need to take Greek because it's more complicated than Hebrew and I'll really need it.  So I'd like to take Spanish instead of Hebrew because I think it will be more useful when I'm a pastor."

    The dean smiled and said, "Mr. Kopp, I appreciate your prophecy; and you can take addition to Greek...and Hebrew."

    Over four decades later, I still use Greek, forget most of what I didn't learn in Hebrew, and wish I would have taken some Spanish lessons.

    Aside from feeling more than a little embarrassed when encountering a 2nd grade Hispanic who can speak English as fluently as Spanish and reminding me that I'm not as "educated" as my many worthless degrees presume along with missing many opportunities to bridge relationships, I've come to admit America is a bilingual nation and being pig-headed and refusing to learn the other language - It goes both ways! - inhibits communication enabling cohesion.


    Parenthetically, I'm reminded of two conversations.

    John Robertson, pastor of Belvidere, New Jersey's First Presbyterian Church and my field education supervisor while I was the student pastor aka temporary supply of the neighboring Delaware Presbyterian Church, said not long after we met, "I hope ___ doesn't ruin you by separating you from God and His people by degrees."

    Then there was Jim Stobaugh, my assistant when I was pastor of Clark, New Jersey's Osceola Presbyterian Church, who was asked by someone interviewing me for a "big" church in Kansas City, "How do you think Dr. Kopp will do in our Country Club District?"  Not knowing the Country Club District was just a part of the town and not primarily indicative of its attitude, he snapped, "Well, he went to ___; so I guess he can be about as snobby as anybody else!"

    Come to think of it, it's kinda snobby not to humble ourselves before others and not try to do more to "get along and live together."


    Fast-tracking to September 15, 2017, I had a dream sometime after midnight about the need for me and others like me to start learning Spanish.

    It had to have been prompted by a meeting of the local Salvation Army Advisory Board on September 14.

    I've been on the board for over eleven years; and it's been a privilege to serve with so many authentically Christian women and men.

    Captains Martha and Tomas Valladares have epitomized the best of clergy who get it/Him; especially when it comes to meeting the existential needs of people while taking every opportunity to talk about eternal security by grace through faith in Jesus.

    Anyway, I've always been salted by their ESL classes (English as a second language) for Hispanics; wondering why none of our cracker churches in town offer SSL classes (Spanish as a second language).

    Yes, I know there are those know what.

    I'd rather not talk about that because it shows the worst side know who.

    Besides, Jesus wants people to humble themselves before others as before Him according to the red letters and apostolic confirmations; and I'm tired of debating with bigots.

    As MLK, Jr. often said, especially on the night before going home to Jesus, "I just want to do God's will."

    Getting to the point before I really go off homiletically, it/He hit me!

    We need to offer a SSL class in our family of faith on the corner of Lincoln and Main to prove we're really inviting, welcoming, including, and agapeing.


    So I sent out an e-mail on September 17 to get it going: "Friends, as our brown population expands and we seek to model Someone better on the corner of Lincoln and Main to invite, welcome, include, and agape, I have a vision for a SSL (Spanish as a second language) opportunity at First."

    I outlined some suggestions for when we could do it and described it as a "conversational-not-grammar-police-oriented" opportunity "to be led by someone who will be patient as well as committed to a long-term-low-key class to increase positive communication in our community and county."

    I said we'd begin as soon as someone is found who can do it so we can do it.


    As with all of my visions, some are inspired while others are indigested.

    Gamaliel comes to mind; and if I can be shown the error of this vision by Jesus, Holy Scripture, and common sense, I'll go back to the bigotry of thinking English only now and forever.

    I guess if some churches can still live in the 16th century and pray in Elizabethan English, why not not?

    Yet, the closer that I get to Jesus, the closer that I want to get to all of His children.

    Forgive me for being so syrupy sentimental on this; but I think Edward Estlin Cummings aka e. e. cummings got it right or, rather, got it from Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: "I am blue,  You are yellow.  Together we make green.  And green is my favorite color."


    God loves unity.

    Anybody who doesn't know that is Biblically illiterate as well as humanly discriminating, segregating, demeaning, and degrading.

    God doesn't favor one people over another people.

    Anybody who doesn't know that is Biblically illiterate as well as humanly discriminating, segregating, demeaning, and degrading.

    God loves the world.

    Anybody who doesn't know that is Biblically illiterate as well as humanly discriminating, segregating, demeaning, and degrading.


    Jesus wasn't a pride-filled, discriminating, segregating, demeaning, and degrading bigot.

    Again, He said God loves the world -  you, me, and all of the below.

    He came to save it/us/everyone.

    So if Jesus loves 'em and we love Jesus, we know what that means.

    Let's spell it out.

    It means we will do all that we can to nurture that love; including learning how to speak their language as they learn how to speak our language so we can "get along and live together."


    God knows nobody gets along and lives together without...communicating.

    Think about it.

    Holy communion.

    Get it/Him?

    When we learn how to say that/Him in every language, then it will be on earth as it is in heaven.

    That is how He taught us to pray.

    That's why Jesus likes...


Blessings and Love!


Shatter the sound of silence!

Wake up!  Look up!  Stand up!  Speak up!  Act up for Jesus!

Salt!  Shine!  Leavenate!




RJ said...

gracias mi hermano

repite por favor: dame una otra cervesa

Laura said...

I LOVE the idea of SSL classes -- especially since I am striving to learn Espanol as well (practicing two hours per day) so I can pass a proficiency (not the same as fluent) exam on 11/17. I need to pass it to keep my job teaching bilingual special education students with intellectual disabilities AND finish grad school (on top of the usual heavy teaching load). Spare prayers are appreciated...even though I am working harder than I've ever worked in my life, I have never been happier! Is this a sign I am fulfilling my calling? Quien sabe....

If your class is looking for free materials, one of the best apps is duolingo -- better for learning vocabulary than conversation but still very helpful. I have a Pimsleur Spanish conversation 1 set of CDs I will gladly donate if you wish -- I have found Pimsleur very helpful in removing my fears and I have begun speaking with native speakers even while knowing I will still struggle and make mistakes (ask Chuck about my adventures in speaking Spanish some time).

If you are interested in the CD set, let me know and I can send it via Chuck. I have another copy.

Blessings & Love,

Ward said...

Bob –

Well said! That’s an idea that will “hunt.”

Here’s some more thoughts along similar lines that has stirred up me and others.

Perhaps you would like to see this conversation regarding “Race and the Church” – it has some of the flavor of your vision, but deals with race rather than language. Similar idea, though.

This article deals with how majority culture churches can embrace minority cultures and grow as Jesus clearly intended. The author is The article is by Greg Morse, who works for the ministry called Desiring God.

Please give Leslie a big hug from me and Jody.

In His Mighty Grip,

Dan said...

So we have a large population of Hispanics ... but not in our Zip code. Our serious influx is Chinese and Korean

So I had proposed a year ago to find a way to incorporate them into our larger church. Obviously the language barrier is huge

How remarkable it would be to start a multi-lingual church movement