Today's Lectionary Text
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? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”
Each year during the Festival of First Harvest, Jews from many nations gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate together. While attending the World Methodist Conference in Durban, South Africa in 2011 I heard Archbishop Elias Chacour speak from the Acts 2. Some of you would remember him from the time when he came to speak at our Annual Conference Session in 2016. He asked what came upon the disciples during Pentecost. Many of us shouted, the Holy Spirit. He responded in surprising way. “No. I thought you Methodists knew the Bible,” he teased the crowd! He then went on to share that it was the wind, which came to cleanse their hearts from all prejudices and any evil intents. From Archbishop Chacour, the significance of Acts 2 is not the coming of the Holy Spirit rather what the Holy Spirit does in the lives of those gathered. The Spirit gave each one the ability (power) to speak, to proclaim the good news. While the resurrection conquers our fear and situations of hopelessness, the Holy Spirit gives us the ability to proclaim the gospel in various languages. The Holy Spirit empowers followers of Christ to take the gospel to all the nations. Through the movements of people from many nations to the US, we witness a variety of Christian communities worshipping in various tongues even in places like Grand Island, NE where a group of migrants worship the risen Christ in Arabic. In this case, migration can be viewed as a Pentecostal motif because it empowers many immigrants to take the gospel beyond their borders.
One can also think of the way we are using technology in this season of covid-19 to reach people as another Pentecostal wave. When you navigate through Facebook, you cannot spend 2 minutes without encountering a pastor leading a live devotion. One may ask, is this an electronic Pentecostal movement? Is this the new tongue many pastors are speaking since the pandemic spread in our communities?
-Rev. Kalaba Chali
Mercy and Justice Coordinator
Prayer for Reflection
God of all languages, nations and peoples, we thank you that in Jesus Christ you have come to redeem the whole of creation, and by the empowerment of your Spirit you have called us to use our tongues to proclaim the good news of the risen Lord. Amen.
-Devotion and prayer inspired by Catch the Fire in 50 Days: Joining the Movement of God’s Mission in the World by Blake Busick and Christie Latona, For sermon outlines and worship helps for the season of Easter, go to www.greatplainsumc.org/catchfire.
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