by Dena Douglas Hobbs
Scripture Reading: Acts 2:1-8 (NRSV)
“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. Amazed and astonished, they asked, ‘Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language?’”
“And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each.” – Acts 2:6
Meditation on Pentecost
I love how the Godly Play telling of the Pentecost story begins with the story of the Tower of Babel. How ancient people who all spoke the same tongue worked together to build a great tower up to the sky. A tower so high they could almost reach up to God. As if they were trying to be as high and mighty as God. In response to this prideful effort, God confused the language of the people and scattered them to humble and subdue them.
The Godly Play story then reminds us that thousands of years go by with the people scattered and divided against themselves.
Enter Jesus. In his life he drew the people of different lands together, those of Galilee and those of Jerusalem, the Jewish and the Samaritan. In his death he spread his nail pierced hands so wide to draw all the world unto himself. But this was a new concept. People would need a sign to show them what God had done.
So down comes the Holy Spirit in wind and in flame. The disciples who were once silenced by fear now had tongues lit on fire by the presence of God’s own Spirit come upon them. This burning inside of them was so strong that they went out from their room into the street to proclaim the grace of Christ to all the people nearby. And the people in the street, people from every tribe and nation could hear and understand the words of the disciples. But how could these Galileans be speaking their own language? Was not the language of people splintered and broken forever?
The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit is the great healer and uniter of humanity. Those who were once torn apart are now drawn back together. For in Christ, we are all gathered together as one body. No longer a body of pride and arrogance, but a body that is made to serve and glorify God.
Have an international dinner. Prepare foods from around the world. As a special blessing for this Pentecost meal, prepare slips of paper with the Lord’s Prayer written in different languages. Have family members take turns reading the familiar prayer in the languages of the world. For smaller children teach them the phrase “Jesus loves you” in different languages. Know that as we speak in different tongues, the message speaking to our hearts is the same.
O God of all the nations, we thank you for uniting us together through the power of your Holy Spirit. We pray that you knit us together into one body so that together we might better serve not ourselves, but you. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Dena Douglas Hobbs is the author of Lighten the Darkness advent devotional and blogs weekly at Centering Down. She lives with her husband, son, and Chinese adopted daughter in middle Georgia.