Love Begins with a Word
It's hard not to think of the story of the tower of Babel in Genesis. God's people tried to build a tower tall enough to reach the heavens. God saw what they were doing and scattered them by confusing their speech so they could no longer communicate well enough to build a tower. Now, at the birthing of the Christian community, God decides to simplify their speech so that God's word can be spread like wildfire. And we come full circle. God scattered people by confusing their speech, and here, God simplifies their speech so they can come together.
Sometimes I think about the immigrants that come into our country to live the American dream. Often I have heard American-born citizens complaining because an immigrant's vocabulary isn't as good as theirs. It's easy to think immigrants are dumb because they sometimes speak with the English vocabulary of a child. But then I realize that they speak more languages than most of America. Sure, I took some French in high school. But I'm only fluent in English. Often, immigrants are fluent in their native language and in English. So maybe that makes them smarter than me, not dumber. Maybe they know something that I don't -- that the first step to love is understanding. We can understand each other's language, and then understand the nuances of the language, then understand the cultural significance of the nuances, then understand the spiritual significance of their cultural significance -- see how this works? How might I expand my knowledge so I can move from ignorance to love?
Narrative Lectionary Text: Acts 2:1-13
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.”