Great Plains Daily Devotional for 5/24/2023: Acts 2:1-12

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Today's Lectionary Text

Acts 2:1-12

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 people 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?”

Today's Devotional

My younger friend and I were engaged in conversation. She was describing her concerns for her daughter, who had just graduated from high school. Her daughter was worried; she did not know exactly what the future held, neither immediately nor in the long term. The daughter was just plain afraid. At least I think that is what my friend meant.

This beautiful woman speaks English quite well, but it is not her first language. In theory I am aware of her cultural milieu, but probably I do not understand all the customs and practices that shape her life. Maybe the concerns she was expressing would have been clearer to me if she had used her first language – except I do not understand that language. What a dilemma.

Those gathered in Acts 2 were speaking in various languages. When the crowd heard the cacophony of speech in many languages they were “bewildered.” “amazed and perplexed,” according to the NRSV. Each of the diverse crowd heard the words spoken in their own native language.

My friend was speaking about her concerns in a language she knew I would understand, in English. However, she spoke, too, in another tongue that she knew we both shared. In the midst of our conversation, she interjected something like, “You know – we both know what it’s like. We are both mothers.”

She had nailed it. We do share the language of motherhood. We love our children, carrying their loads as part of our own. We have a model – God shares our loads right along with us, taking them on as God’s own. Just as my friend gave to her daughter genuine care and love, so God offers her daughter and us real compassion and love. We can model our human relationships on God’s relationship with us. 

That is the message that came through in many languages on Pentecost day. It was an exciting message, one that lit a fire in the lives and hearts in many, many folk. They each heard the Good News about God’s deeds of power in a language they understood. They each heard about God’s caring Presence and love in a way that they were able to comprehend and that could propel them into loving action out in the world. 

Like those early Christians, let’s be aware today. Let’s listen well in order to know the language we share with each person we encounter. Let us listen with ears and with hearts. Then let us share God’s compassion and love in that language.

-- Rev. Dianne Tombaugh, retired elder

Prayer for Reflection

Holy Spirit. Make us aware today. Light us on fire. Empower us to share, in ways that others understand, who God is and how God acts. Amen.


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