The first words of his testimony today were “Been sittin’ on my butt at home for the last six months so I thought I ought to at least give up smoking.” He said he hadn’t been at church during that time like he ought to, “prolly because the fish were biting and the ducks were flying.” And finally he allowed as how, after fifteen or so years, he’d started to feel like he was finally good enough to join the rest of us.
Pretty strong stuff, you know?
And as he continued I thought to myself, “Why am I almost always impressed by those whose testimonies include some sort of vulgarity or some expression that isn’t quite How. We. Do. It. when we know how it’s supposed to be done.” I’ve seen it before: a former waitress at a truck stop who swore, an early twenty-something male who used an earthy expression, or something along those lines. Children tend to employ unusual constructions, as well, but although they sometimes amuse me they don’t strike me the way these adults do.
Maybe it’s just that the non-standard formulations force me to concentrate on what’s really being said instead of listening with only one ear. Maybe their willingness to use those kinds of expression is tickling my Inner Adolescent. Maybe. But my thought right now is that in these testimonies I find people who are for perhaps the first time in their lives coming into contact with the grace that sanctifies us. And it’s so new to them that when their surprise and joy spills out, I can feel it as well, at a level below [above?] the words that convey it.
I don’t think I’d want to hear that sort of language all the time in church. But I also don’t think that I’d want to give up the times when I have heard it, either.