By Rev. Marty Levesque
I love words. I love learning the etymology of words, their development over time and even those new words that get added to the lexicon each year.
Some notable words and phrase from 2020 are: cancel culture, deep fake, contact tracing, onboarding and social distancing. A few that are not quite so easy to discern are zoodle, weak sauce, WFH and sadfishing.
The English language continues to evolve each year and as new words become part of our everyday verbiage older words lose their common or assumed understanding. This is true about the church and our vocabulary, which often seems like we have our own special language.
And while words like Triduum, Eucharist, Unction, Vicar and Rector all have distinct meanings that those who are churched intuitively know, they are no longer part of the general populations’ lexicon.
That is not to say we no longer use these words that have deep meaning to our faith and tradition. Rather, it is to say we need to know when to use those words and always be ready with a quick definition. One place where our inside language can be problematic is our outward-facing media: websites and social media.
For instance, creating a Facebook event and advertising on a church website Maundy Thursday services might seem logical to those who are churched, but to a seeker, it might as well be Latin (which of course it is). A better advertisement would be "Maundy Thursday: A Communion Service of the Institution of the Lord's Supper."
Yes, that is a mouthful, but it explains what the service is, offers some theological education and prepares seekers as to what to expect. In essence, it is welcoming by not creating a language barrier.
So whether it is Easter or "Christmas and the Celebration of the Nativity of Lord: Commemorating the Birth of Jesus", including the definition in the title goes a long way in welcoming seekers into our communities and to the font and the table.
Rev. Marty Levesque is the diocesan social media officer and rector of All Saints’ in Waterloo. firstname.lastname@example.org