Once in a counseling session, I mentioned that my husband and I spoke different languages. The counselor nodded and agreed, stating, “I understand. Like I speak Spanish and my wife speaks English?” No. Not like that at all. What I meant was, although we both spoke English, we didn’t say or perceive things in the same way. If he says, “I wish you had made meatloaf instead of tacos,” I hear, “He hates my tacos,” when in fact, what he means is “I had tacos for lunch.” We finally started to learn that, although we spoke the same words, they held vastly different meanings for us.
It’s interesting, then, that the gift of the Holy Spirit immediately made it possible for those speaking and those hearing to be perceiving the same thing. Considering how slippery language can be, it seems a brilliant gift that the Holy Spirit brought people together by binding their words and meanings. Understanding is critical to building healthy relationships. It was critical to the building of the early church. We could learn a lot by realizing that our words can be perceived as in many different ways as there are people to perceive them.
Narrative Lectionary Text: Acts 2:1-4
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.
Narrative Lectionary Text: Galatians 4:1-7
My point is this: heirs, as long as they are minors, are no better than slaves, though they are the owners of all the property; but they remain under guardians and trustees until the date set by the father. So with us; while we were minors, we were enslaved to the elemental spirits of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.
Alternate Text: Galatians 5:16-26
Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another.