Seek Ye First
In graduate school, I started to learn some simple signs from American Sign Language as I began providing speech and language therapy to clients in schools, the clinic on campus, and early intervention (birth to three years old). I have learned more signs while working in an integrated preschool setting in north central Ohio. About a year ago, I started to attend informal classes offered by a local church I am regularly attending. Most of the time, we learn a couple of songs that will be included in the next Sunday’s worship service. We have also learned The Lord’s Prayer and Psalm 23. The instructor is a bubbly lady who works as a sign language interpreter so she often makes comments concerning her work. This serves to further enrich our short time together.
During a couple of the services in October 2019, I had some interesting worship experiences centered around the songs sung and paired with sign language (probably more accurately Signing Exact English versus actual American Sign Language). The first experience centers around the song Do Something by Matthew West. I know this song and have sung it many times. It is always at least a little convicting. However, watching this lady sign it as part of the Praise Team really brought this song to life for me in a very powerful way. It was hard to stumble along signing as I was so enthralled watching her.
The second worship experience occurred just a week or two later but was almost the exact opposite of what had occurred the first time. We were singing Seek Ye First (just the first verse or two and the chorus) and I was able to sign along with the song (and the lady) as the tempo was slow enough and the signs simple enough. As my whole body was involved in worship through that song -hands, arms, voice, eyes, emotions - I gained a clearer picture of worship.
I continue to look forward to how God will to use sign language in my life, both professionally and personally, in the future.
What surprising experiences of worship have you had?
P.S. I have decided that I want to learn American Sign Language as my third language - English is my first and Spanish is my second.