Acts 2: 1-21
June 5, 2022
The apostles and others have gathered in Jerusalem for the harvest festival … Shavuot … which is also known as the Feast of Weeks. The day wasn’t called Pentecost at the time … that’s a label that came later when the story was told in Greek.
The festival drew people from distant regions to the city and with them their own languages. They gave thanks and offered prayers for the harvest and for future growing seasons.
It has been 50 days since Passover … and 50 days since Christ was on the cross.
In today’s passage from Acts, Luke shares the story about when the Spirit came upon the group.
We’ve heard the story before. A sound like a violent wind fills the house, then tongues of fire rests upon each of the people there.
The people began to speak in different languages … and they could be understood by those who had been speaking in a different native tongue. Not only that, but the apostles and others could also understand what was being said to them.
It was a gift of the Spirit.
Others who heard them speak wondered how this group gained the ability to speak a different language than the one they were speaking moments earlier.
They blame new wine.
Peter reminds them of what the prophet Joel said, implying that God has poured out the Spirit to those who have gathered and that they are now empowered to share their faith stories far from Jerusalem.
Speaking about faith means speaking a language different from that of the world’s … it means learning a new tongue and continually practising that language in the world.
Though our words and actions … the language of love … and the effect of that divine love on the world … is made known to all.
The Spirit empowers and emboldens us to embrace that language.
The Spirit breaks through whatever armour we have placed around our heart … it cracks open hearts to fully feel grace … God’s unconditional love … and calls us to take that love out to others.
The Spirit enables us to hear another’s story … the stories of strangers … to understand their pains and the cause of their wounds … and then to minister to them … to be a true community whose foundation is that understanding.
We have the ability to speak and act … to allow the Spirit to work through us … like those gathered in the house centuries ago … to go out from this place … and tell people what God has done and to do what we are each called to do.
German pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer once wrote that, “The Holy Spirit does not create uncertainty in us, but certainty and clarity. We are enabled to walk in the Spirit, taking confident steps.”
The Holy Spirit intercedes in our lives and in the life of the world … the certainty that Bonhoeffer wrote of becomes apparent as we claim our identities as followers of Christ … as children of God.
It is an identity we first claimed in baptism and which we affirm through our acts … through our loving relationships … and through our continual remembrance of the water … the Spirit … poured upon us.
The Spirit … through our baptism … calls us into community … and continually calls us to be community.