Reflections on The Cup Song in Gaeilge

The Cup Song! In Gaeilge in Northern Ireland. This is a celebration of the recovery of language. Once forbidden in the North, the language is enjoying a revival. Its a language I have never spoken. Though having driven the coast of Ireland twenty years ago I heard it and entered villages that had little English. And I just about fell out of my chair when my cousins came in from a night of cards and music and said, “It was good craic!”

The revival of language is not without its politics and complications. In Canada we surely shall grieve the loss of First Nations languages. And around the world, languages are dying. When a language dies, knowledge dies too. Embodied in the language are ways of knowing the world, stories and culture. As a follower of Jesus I am able to rejoice in the revival of language and the knowledge and even the identity contained within it. Common grace.

I had a lunch with a friend last week. He shared of his spiritual journey. He said something like this: “When I started with Jesus God spoke to me only in English. But now he speaks to me in Japanese.”  I’m really happy about this. The heart. God speaks the languages of the heart. John’s vision given by God is of a great celebration of Jesus by people from all nations, peoples and languages.

Having said that, it must be noted that in the politics of language, culture, and identity do require wisdom, truth and grace. There is so much pain there. Although we can study it, we need the grace of God to move into reconciled relationships and even to assist in the recovery of languages and the rebuilding of peoples. I don’t know how to do this so I am thankful for those who are studying and labouring at it. Who else will sing the cup song?

More than that I find myself wondering, “Who else will be singing the  Salvation Song before the Lamb?

9After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

13Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
15“Therefore they are before the throne of God,
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.
16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
the sun shall not strike them,
nor any scorching heat.
17For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
Revelations 7:9-17
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