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Weekly e-Gram for members and friends of Dublin Community Church

December 18, 2009

LOST IN TRANSLATION

We get many Christmas Cards at the Church Office. They are from members and friends and we display them all. It adds to the Holiday atmosphere of Christmas and New Years Celebrations.

We get personal messages on the cards and some have family photos or just photos of the kids. But one card stands out this season. We received a Christmas card which is not addressed to anyone at the church. It does have the church address but not the name of Dublin Community Church or of anyone working here.

The card can’t be too exotic because the return name and address are in the left hand corner. The name seems Russian; the address is a Dublin residence.

Currently we are putting together the Christmas Eve worship services. Naturally they are filled with scriptural passages. What would Christmas Eve be without the words of Isaiah or the Gospel of Matthew or the Gospel of Luke? It just would not be the same. I always toy with the idea of reading portions of the birth narrative from the King James Version. That’s what I grew up with and studied in Confirmation.

The King James Version says things like:

And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And…

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

We don’t read the King James Version much these days. It was known to my grandparent, parents and me, but I have used Revised Standard and Newly Revised Standard Version for my professional life. Our Confirmands use the NRSV also. It is a fine version.

But, still, I have to smile and occasionally long for the translation/version which first embedded itself in my memory. I found my father’s Confirmation Bible on my bookshelf (presented to him on his Confirmation Day on April 9, 1933). With it is my Confirmation Study Bible (Presented to me from the same church on September 29, 1963. I was confirmed in the spring of 1965, after two years of study!) Both are King James Versions and both say this in the opening pages:

The Holy Bible containing the Old and New Testaments. Translated out of the original tongues and with the former translations diligently compared and revised.

Hmmm. So maybe God did not write and hand down the Holy Bible in King James Olde English? It’s interesting that whatever translation or version we have, it still offers to us a story of faith and hope.

And as for the “Russian” Christmas card we received at the office? It has a pretty long handwritten Christmas greeting to someone…in Russian. It is obviously heartfelt and sincere. And I wonder what he or she is writing about? I have no idea.

Some years ago I was a part of a study group and we had a blue tin box in which we kept a few dollars for snacks for the meeting. The cobalt blue tin had Japanese writing on the side. We always assumed it had some lofty, “peace to all humankind” type saying which previous members of the group knew about and therefore they kept the tin for the meetings to give good “karma.”

One day we asked a Japanese Professor to translate the writings on the tin. He looked at it and announced that it said…. “Happy Morning Salted Crackers”

Unlike the King James Version or the blue Japanese cracker tin, I’ve decided not to attempt to translate the “Russian Christmas Card” greeting out of its original tongue and diligently compare and revise it. I would rather just imagine that it offers to us a story of faith and hope for a peaceful and blessed Christmas.

С Рождеством Христовым
Rev. Bob Tussing

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