By Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, May 12, 2016

I have always wanted to be fluent in more than one language. Sadly, Spanish 101 happened a long time ago, so besides ordering a bowl of soup at El Som you won’t find me conversing "en Espanol." The only other languages I know are dead languages and not many people want to talk about parsing the Greek or plucking a Hebrew verbal form.

I think a new language is coming to be: emojis. If you communicate by text, then you have probably used them, those little pictures that allow you to send a quick response with just one click that communicates a lot in a little space.

The popularity of these little pictograms led Neil Boatman, to create an online dictionary for the burgeoning lexicon. The Noun Project uses crowdsourcing to gather an army of people to define words using icons. For Boatman, “the thinking behind this is that visuals are kind of the one language that everyone can understand regardless of race or ethnicity or cultural heritage," Boatman said. "So I thought building this visual dictionary would be a universal resource for people around the world to use."

This Sunday we will celebrate the story of Pentecost, that moment when the Spirit of God united those early believers across all language and ethnic barriers. Christian Ethicist Stanley Hauerwas claims that “at Pentecost God created a new language, but it was a language that is more than words. It is instead a community” shaped and formed by the memory of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Could it be that the church is God's new language? Are we God's emojis for the world? What a beautiful thought! The church is a visible, universal sign for people around the world to see. The love and welcome that we attempt to embody in gesture and ritual forms the one language that everyone can understand regardless of race or ethnicity or cultural heritage.

If you are not convinced that we are God's emojis of love for the world, consider this word from the Apostle Paul from 2 Corinthians:

You yourselves are all the endorsement we need. Your very lives are a letter that anyone can read by just looking at you. Christ himself wrote it—not with ink, but with God’s living Spirit; not chiseled into stone, but carved into human lives–and we publish it. We couldn’t be surer of ourselves in this—that you, written by Christ himself for God, are our letter of recommendation.