At Home in the Newness

Rev. Joel Fritsche

Six months into the foreign mission field in the Dominican Republic, my wife and I just finished our initial phase of intensive Spanish courses. Everything that was so new six months ago has begun to settle into the familiar category. New country. New city. New culture. New language. New way of driving. And as wild as the driving is here, we're even starting to be at home in the newness of that.

What has put my family and me at home in the newness most of all is the liturgy of the Divine Service. Six months in, language classes complete, four to five hours a day of study, can I speak Spanish with the best of them? Not quite yet, especially with regard to Dominican Spanish. But in many respects, the liturgy has been and continues to be an incredible tutor. While everything around us is new and different, despite even the different language, we are at home in the timeless words we've sung, prayed and confessed again and again.

Whether it's speaking the Confession and Absolution, praying the Creed or the Lord's Prayer, singing the Kyrie or the Nunc Dimittis, we are at home, resting in the same promise of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Even my three sons quickly adjusted from "Lord, have mercy" to "Señor, ten piedad, or "O Christ, Thou Lamb of God, that takest away the sin of the world" to "Cordero de Dios, que quitas del mundo el pecado." No matter the language spoken or sung, the language of faith is the same; the confession of our Lord Jesus is the same. We can all conclude that our eyes have seen God's salvation.

The liturgy also speaks for me when I just don't have the Spanish words on the tip of my tongue. Whether I'm visiting someone in their home, comforting a sick church member, or talking to the homeless guy who comes to our gate each day, the Lord's words of comfort and hope give me plenty to speak. These words are filled not just with the humility of a sinner confessing, they're filled with Jesus Himself, the reality of suffering and the cross, the certainty of sin forgiven, the hope of a God who is near in Word and Sacrament. That's evangelism at its best!

It's good to be home. The liturgy offers you a home filled with Jesus crucified and risen for you, wherever you are in the world. I have the privilege to share that here in a new country with new Christians. We speak a different language, yet the same language, for we are one body in Christ, confessing Padre, Hijo y Espíritu Santo, un solo Dios por los siglos de los siglos. Amen! Yes indeed, it's good to be home!

Rev. Joel Fritsche serves as a missionary to the Dominican Republic. He is also Secretary of the Higher Things® Board of Directors. You can find out more about the Fritsches and what they're doing in the Dominican Republic at http://www.lcms.org/fritsche.

Created: September 29th, 2015