May 15, 2016
Acts 2:1-21. . When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”
14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:
17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams;
18 even on my male servants and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
20 the sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
Grace, Mercy and Peace to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
When looking at our Second Reading for this morning, that of Pentecost, there are two senses that come to mind; visual and audio. The first thing is the sight of the disciples as they go out of the room they are in to speak to the crowds that form. It says, “And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them.” OK. Well, I don’t know about all of you, but my first thought would not have been, “Oh this is cool.” It would have been more like this one guy in one of my high school science classes who got too close to the Bunsen burner and lit his hair on fire. His reaction was not calm at all. It was more along the lines of, “Ah, ah, fire! Put it out! Put it out! Put it out!”
Could you see the disciples running around crazy like that while the crowds rushed to dump buckets of water over them? Or maybe a better solution would have been: Stop, Drop, and Roll. But no, this is not the reaction. They are filled with the Holy Spirit and they go to proclaim the Word of God to others. But something even more amazing happens when they go to do this: They speak in tongues.
If it wasn’t strange enough for the crowds to see tongues of fire resting on the disciples, they were hearing all kinds of different languages spewing from their mouths. But each person could hear their own language speaking the Word of God to them. That is so amazing.
These last couple of weeks, I’ve had the privilege to go and work with High school kids at Oxford High School for their Saturday School. I get to go there and help some of them catch up on some subjects they may be falling behind on and learn the subjects myself. But I can’t help compare this experience to our lesson today. I finish helping one student with Geometry in order to help another student with computer terminology. Then from that subject to world history. All these different subjects with their different languages. Like our lesson today, it seemed like there may have been a little too much wine being passed around. Disclaimer: there was no alcohol at the school. They are good kids.
But I would begin speaking to some students about one subject and they would look at me like I’m talking in tongues. Then another student would try to explain to me where they were in the subject and I would think they have discovered some ancient lost language that I’ve never heard before. But then there were others where we would both speak the same language and understand each other. Those subjects were easy to get through because we both had a common knowledge to share that didn’t try and confuse each of us. These were the students I was able to help the most because I could relate to their learning methods and explain in terms I could understand that would help them to better understand the subject matter.
The same becomes true with the Word of God and how people come to understand it. Each person learns in a different way and relates to different people better than others. I stand up here and preach every Sunday the Word of God. And I try to do it in terms that I feel most people will understand. But there are probably some people each week that just look at me and say, “What is Pastor blabbering on about? This just doesn’t make any sense.” Now that could be the same people, or it could be different people each week. There is nothing wrong with it. Just that my way of relating the subject doesn’t relate very well to them. And yet, someone else could be talking to them later about the Sermon, say something in different terms, and then it clicks, and the person can relate and understand what the message was to be.
The same is true when we are outside of these walls. Some of us will get discouraged if people just don’t understand or acknowledge the Word of God when we tell it. But maybe that is because we are “speaking another language” to them. Perhaps someone else is the right conduit God will use to spread his message. Or maybe we see that someone has been told by someone else of the love of Christ, but they just didn’t understand it, so we decide that we can’t do a better job. But maybe, just maybe, we are that right person through whom the Holy Spirit will reach them.
Because of our different personalities, hobbies, likes and dislikes, we all speak different languages. This is not a bad thing. It just means we have more ways for people to understand. In this room right here, we have over 30 different languages we can use to reach others. Christ has already reached us. Let us lengthen that reach through our Babbling of different languages. Amen.