We are in Eastertide season and also the 50 days leading to the Day of Pentecost. I am in a men’s Bible study that is currently going through 1 Corinthians and will then go through a book about spiritual gifts in the local church… as Anglicans. I love what the Spirit does in every corner of the Church world!
As we read through 1 Corinthians 12, one overall observation was what everyone is most afraid of is “tongues.” That gift just stumps us.
Growing up in a Pentecostal tradition, Pentecost Sunday was sort of a big deal, but other times were just as key. Speaking in tongues was the gateway to the Spirit-filled life in our tradition. This, of course, terrified folks, even if they weren’t willing to admit it. The problem was lack of discipleship. Once someone DID speak in tongues, everyone around them basically said, “Praise God!” and then left that person at the altar to go out for pie and coffee.
The poor soul was left asking, “Well, now what?”
In all this experience, it still doesn’t invalidate the gift of tongues. It just means we need to work to understand all this more fully. And we need to understand the Day of Pentecost beyond one particular issue of speaking in tongues.
Emilio Alvarez in his book Pentecost calls the reader to understand the multilingual, multicultural aspect of Pentecost in Acts 2. Part of the Day of Pentecost is to remember ALL that event does in the life of the Church beyond speaking in tongues.
Can a White North American Christian recognize and understand what God is doing in the life of an African American Christian? Can an African American Christian recognize and understand what God is doing in the life of a White North American Christian? Can both White and Black Christians recognize and understand what God is doing in Latin Americans, Asians, and other ethnicities and culture represented in our global cities? Here lies the transformative power of Pentecost. Can we at Pentecost intentionally include people from other cultures and languages in our celebrations and reflections in order to hear the wonders of God through their lives?
Prepare our hearts, O Lord, for what the Spirit is doing all over the world. Let us not limit ourselves in language and culture like the world tried to do at Babel. Let us rely on the Spirit in the beauty of many languages and cultures as the Church did on the Day of Pentecost. AMEN.