Mill Neck Liturgy Gloss Project Underway

IMG_3782At Pentecost the Gospel was proclaimed and “each one was hearing them speak in his own language” (Acts 2:6b ESV). The Gentiles not only marveled at the mighty works of God, but they marveled that it was spoken in their language—that surely God’s Good News was meant for them too! “[W]e hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” The Greek word for “in tongues” here is γλώσσαις (glōssais). In English, a gloss is a translation or explanation of a phrase, the technical term for a written notation of what should be signed by an ASL interpreter. An interesting connection, wouldn’t you say? How can people “hear” the Good News of Christ (and hear it as for them) if it is not given in their language?

This past summer, Lutheran Friends of the Deaf began work on an ASL gloss of the English liturgy of the LCMS Lutheran Service Book hymnal. The liturgy is a standard form that shapes the Church’s worship. Everyone speaks together the same words, not only within one congregation, but across a church body, through time, and around the world. This historic, carefully constructed common form shows and builds the unity of the Body of Christ and provides a common text from which we can together teach, unfolding “the mighty works of God” in the Divine Service. So why shouldn’t the deaf enjoy this same consistency in their worship? A standard liturgy gloss would benefit the whole Church, in that it means the deaf can go from one church to another and see that this expression in the liturgy is a common thing for the Church. A common gloss reaches beyond the place it was created, unites, and gives an opportunity for a study of the text in an organized way.

Deaconess-intern Heidi Sias and Pastor Thomas Dunseth are working in conjunction with a deaf focus group to fulfill this need. The focus group consists of four deaf Lutheran church members, who are also ASL/ITP professors at local community colleges in Michigan. Lutheran Friends of the Deaf feels that this deaf involvement is critical to this project and sets it apart from past liturgy glosses. First drafts have already been completed for some of the services. Eventually all the services in the front of the Lutheran Service Book hymnal will be included.

A gloss, a tongue, a language—all used to proclaim the “mighty works of God”: a sign to the deaf that the Gospel is for them too. Lutheran Friends of the Deaf is providing just that in a consistent liturgy gloss for sign language interpreters so they might share the Good News of Christ with the deaf in their own “tongue,” as they are united in the Body of Christ.

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