To view previous messages visit our YouTube Channel here and subscribe.
Dear Church Family,
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each… in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.” Acts 2:1-6, 11-13
On the day of Pentecost, a remarkable reversal took place, people of diverse background, culture and community were included in the conversation as equals. Your preferred tongue was not an obstacle, it was clear “the message was for you.” No one did not hear in their native tongue – everyone heard in the language that was most familiar, and this was amazing. Interestingly however, is “what” was amazing. For those who did not expect to hear in the hometown lingo there was curiosity and celebration. The medium captured attention and they received the story of “God’s deeds of power.” Precisely because they knew what is was like not to fit into the preferred and dominate cultural communication – they got the message loud and clear through the din of many languages all being heard at the same time.
The outsiders heard, but not all were outsiders and interestingly it is the insiders who missed the miracle perhaps because they never considered the possibility that they would not hear in their own native tongue, because they believed that their native tongue was really the only way to talk. They heard the witness of God’s deeds of power but attended less to that message and more to the response of others – they noticed the amazement of inclusion and responded by pronouncing the whole experience as drunken disorientation.
This is one danger of being in the privileged, dominant culture. Those in such places have expected the world do the work for them and have difficulty putting themselves in another’s shoes because why would they do that when their shoes fit just fine. Amid Covid-19 many signs have emerged, but perhaps not enough wonder. We can have questions about how the virus came to be, over its spread, and when we can get back to “normal,” but when statistically undeniable disparities of infection rate and death are revealed based on race, who wonders? Like the dominate culture at Pentecost we can dismiss those who speak, as drunk.
I am hopeful for days when many of the niceties of life reemerge from our stay at home worlds, but I believe the Christian Church must wonder about a return to any “normal” in which our system knowingly relegates more people to disease and death based upon their race. The whole witness of Pentecost and the Acts of the Apostles as a whole is that God shows no partiality – that God’s promise is for everyone and each is meant to hear it in their own native tongue. The spiritual connection to God which wells up to eternal life is not just an emergence for the next life. Our new “normal” must be to welcome and empower all of God’s children into life and not withhold access to life, for Jesus came that we might have life… life to the full.Peace,