We often call Pentecost the Birthday of the Church.
The Lord’s disciples were gathered in one room – a frightened, insecure group of people. Suddenly, as they were in prayer, they heard a sound like the rush of a violent wind that filled the entire house, and tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and rested on each of them. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit moved them.
They went out and started to speak to people and were understood by foreigners in their own native tongues.
Why are we so surprised that the disciples were understood when they spoke to people in their own languages?
It would be more surprising if people understood someone else’s language.
People always hear the spirit of God in their own language. The Word of God speaks to the ill person about healing, to the criminal about repentance, to all of us about living a full life. Those who consider themselves in good health have no desire to hear words of healing. Those who seek riches will never hear messages about the priority of relationships. Each person hears whatever that person is open to hear. That’s true of Pentecost as well as today.
We can all allow the Holy Spirit to open us and make us more flexible, so that we can hear more of God’s Word. At Pentecost, God’s Spirit chose to dwell within us. The trouble is many people are still looking for God in all the wrong places.
By our baptism, we are Pentecost people. Pentecost people don’t ask why God doesn’t change the world. They ask God to change them so that they can change the world. Pentecost people know they cannot do it all by themselves. They need the Spirit of God moving within them and showing them the direction they should take.
The Spirit guided the infant church to include Gentiles and Jews, women in leadership roles, those of high standing as well as low. With the Spirit’s guidance the community of believers grew in depth and diversity. The Spirit works in ways that are as creative, life-giving, and intimate as the breath of God itself. When we are not open to God’s Spirit, we are like the disciples before Pentecost, hidden away and feeling powerless.
Jesus often mentioned “Be not afraid” in the Gospels. The Spirit will drive out our fears and enable us to take one day at a time in faith. The Spirit is truly an interior lover empowering us in those times of loneliness and pain, with words we cannot express in our darkest hours.
Christians should listen to others and value their feelings and opinions. If we could listen to one another, and love one another with our hearts, that would be a great manifestation of Pentecost.
When we allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives, we may not always see the evidence, but we can feel the tug of the Spirit in our hearts, constantly letting us know that we are in touch with God. The Spirit may give us insight into a problem. The Spirit may move us in our sleep, and when we wake up, we have the answer to a problem we have been trying to solve.
However, we must make time to stop and listen to the still inner voice in the silence of our hearts. We need to sit quietly, as those early Disciples did, waiting as the Spirit directs us and quiets our fears and prays with and for us. Let us listen with our hearts open to receive.
“Those who wait for the Lord will renew their strength, they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not be weary, they will walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)
Posted on Fri, May 13, 2016
by Rev. Wilmer L. Todd