Intepreting Tongues: “The Lord God saves”

By Fr. Brett Crull

At the end of the second service on Sunday, October 23, I spoke in tongues over the congregation, and some people have asked to know what we teach about the gift of tongues. I could have been wrong about that decision, and I know it was a risk. 

Our team of priests will need further discussion so that we can answer specific questions regarding this spiritual gift with a unified voice, recognizing that this is not typically something that happens on a Sunday morning at Rez, and that in the broader Christian community there is a diversity of opinions about this gift. But for now, I will say at least this much. This is more typically something I do in my private prayer. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14, the gift of tongues is primarily about what passes between the individual and God. On Sunday, however, I felt prompted to turn this prayer toward the congregation.

Since Paul’s instructions in Corinthians emphasize the need for interpretation, I want to make sure to pass on the potential interpretations I have received from members of our congregation. 

The fullest manifestation of interpreting tongues seems to be when one person hears word for word, or syllable for syllable, the message that was being spoken and understands it, as if it were spoken in English. Short of this, I think there can sometimes be a general “sense” of the message, without a word-for-word interpretation of it. Oftentimes, the person praying in tongues can have a general “sense” of what it is about.

In response to the utterance on Sunday, I heard various reactions. On the most general level were those who said that they had no interpretation, but did have a sense of the Spirit strengthening, lifting, emboldening, comforting, encouraging. Several came to me with a “sense” of the message. One man said it represented the ocean of God’s love and power, and the prayer was a cry for more; more of the Spirit, more of God’s love and power to be accessed and known. One woman said she had the image of God as a mother hen, gathering her brood under wing, and the words “no one will be left out” – a sense of unity and receiving God’s care as we travel through the next chapter as a church.

A young man had the words of the first chapter of Revelation in his heart and mind repeated throughout the utterance: “I am the First and I am the Last, the Living One. Behold, I was dead, and now I am risen and alive forevermore.”

Finally, I’ll share this interpretation from an older woman in the congregation:

“The Lord God saves!  He saves passionately!  He saves comprehensively!   He saves provocatively! He saves every cell, every membrane in our bodies! He saves the past! He saves the present!  He saves the future.  He saves utterly and to the foremost. He saves that He may present us pure and spotless before the throne in worship forever and ever. Worship the King!  Exalt His name!”

As Paul says, the gift of tongues is a mystery. Perhaps God was saying all these things and more. As we receive the experience of the utterance and these interpretations that followed, we may offer them to the Lord for discernment. So, I submit to you, the people of Resurrection, all of the above for your own discernment and testing. If you are edified, strengthened, and encouraged in any way, then receive this gift gladly as coming from Him and use it to guide your prayer for our church.

Fr. Brett CrullCathedral Vicar


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