It’s been said that the UK and the United States are two countries divided by the same language. Even French friends refer to this language barrier as English and American. In some cases, words are different for the same thing. Between us there are possibly hundreds of regional dialects and accents. There is the purity of what we were accustomed to calling ‘the Queen’s English’ (now the King’s English?) and the adulterated, poor cousin’s version spoken here, west of the Pond. And then there’s the infamous elide of which both are guilty (it’s unknown who slips and slides most, who loses the most letters when they talk, whose colloquialisms win gold). Where there is no contest is determining which of the two iterations mishmashes the most foreign languages for our convenience and benefit.

Picture a rural Mississippian parachuted into downtown London for the first time ever. Oh, the bewilderment! Cars blithely whizzing past on the wrong side of the road, people referring to cabbies and lorries stopping for petrol, funny-looking coinage, two-story buses. And, oh yeah, what’s a quid anyway? (is that Brit-speak for squid?) How long does it take to get a pub waiter to come take your order for lunch? (they don’t – Y’order at the bar, luv.) I suspect the scenario in reverse would produce equally surprised, if circumspectly terrified, reaction.

Jesus was ‘parachuted’ into the Roman-occupied Jewish society, speaking ‘Kingdom’ to Aramaic, Hebrew, and Koiné Greek speakers. It wasn’t just that he said ‘zed’ to their ‘zee.’ There was a fundamental chasm between his words and their understanding. His disciples, more than once, were left wondering what he had just said. Then there was the perception of the work of the Messiah: warrior/liberator, to his lover/Redeemer. The power Israel anticipated the Messiah to demonstrate was death/destruction/defeat of their enemies. The power Jesus displayed was redemptive/curative/ blessing. Jesus referred to himself as the fruition of Messianic prophecies but was less tolerant of the Jewish ‘elite’ than he was of the poor and helpless of society. He infuriated the Jewish leadership and endeared himself to the faceless and nameless. He chose as his posse, guys from his own backwater region of Galilee rather than those from the well-heeled, well-educated, Jewish ‘aristocracy.’ He miserably failed to deliver on the aspirations of one group and wildly surpassed every hope of the other. It’s this upside-down, irrevocable, Kingdom which he conferred on his disciples – and on us. That’s brilliant/awesome!

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