May 26, 2020
“All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.” (Acts 2:4, NRSV)
The world is divided. We are divided by distance, culture, politics, language, wealth, and sin. Sin is ultimately a desire to put ourselves, or something other than God in charge. It results in greed, selfishness, fear, and pride, and it causes us to be divided. In the Old Testament one consequence of sin is seen in the tower of Babel. Out of pride* the people try to build a tower up to God, so God divides them into different language groups. The world becomes divided.
At the Jewish festival of Pentecost Jewish believers from all around the Roman Empire have gathered to celebrate the harvest and the gift of the Law to Moses. This should be a time of great unity, but it was also a time of great division. These Jewish people were divided by race and language and they were also divided into other groups. Some of these groups were Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, and Zealots. These groups were even further divided and sometimes violence broke out between them.
When the Spirit fills the disciples these divisions are reversed. Everyone hears in the language of their heart. Yesterday we reflected that the Spirit creates and restores or re-creates. Today we hear that the Spirit brings unity. This is something the world sorely needs. We notice it more at a time like this, but the pain and suffering caused by division is always with us.
Healing God, pour out your Spirit on all creation once more, that sinful division might end, near and far. Help us to faithfully witness to your reconciling power, deeds and love. In Jesus Name. Amen.
*Pride in the Bible means believing that you are more important than the other, whether the other is God, or a person of another culture, belief, class, group or family.