For centuries in Europe the only way to hear from God was in the language of the educated, Latin. The language of spirituality was dissociated from everyday life. The warmth of conversations between family members around the table and hearth could not be captured when the priest read from the Scriptures in a foreign tongue.
One of the greatest gifts of the Protestant Reformation, in my opinion, is having the Bible in a language I understand best, not one I studied later. From that time until now Christian men and women have been busy translating the word of God into the heart language of hundreds of people groups around the globe. This task has been complicated by the fact that many languages did not have a written form at all. For them, an alphabet and dictionary had to precede the Scriptures.
The Bible-less language groups are predominantly found in Asia and Africa, but nine years ago I learned of the completion of a rather surprising Bible translation project. The Old Order Mennonite language of Low German or Plautdietsch finally had its own Scriptures! Prior to this, all Bible reading and faith practice used High German, a language less familiar to this Christian group, which stresses simplicity of living. Yet for all these years as their spoken language deviated more and more from the language of the Scriptures they used, they could easily lose that heart connection with the God they serve.
Perhaps there is someone who will want to read the Lord’s Prayer in Plautdietsch. Even if you cannot understand these words, be grateful that you can read the Lord’s Prayer in your own tongue:
Ons Voda en Himmel!
Dien Nomen saul heilich jehoolen woaren.
Lot dien Rikj komen.
Lot dien Wellen oppe leed jrod soo jedonn woaren aus en Himmel.
Jeff ons daut Broot daut wi vondoag brucken.
Verjeff ons onse Schult, soo aus wie dee vejäwen, dee sikj aun ons veschulcht haben.
Brinj ons nich en Vesieekjunk, oba bewoa ons fa dän beesen.Wiels die jehieet daut Rikj un de Krauft un de Harlichkjeit fa emma un emma. Amen.