May 2024


“All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages” Acts 2:4.

Jesus came to cleanse the temple of our hearts. Then, on the day of Pentecost, God the Holy Spirit came to live with and within humanity. This was another profound and pivotal moment in human history centred around the life of Jesus. But let’s consider a minor detail in this dramatic story.

The first manifestation of the Holy Spirit’s descent was people suddenly speaking languages they didn’t know previously. We know that every good thing is a gift from God, and in this story, we have a simple reminder that even language is from God. In Greek mythology, Prometheus brought from above to humanity the secret knowledge of fire in defiance of the gods. In contrast, the God we have come to know through Jesus wanted the Holy Spirit to descend. And with tongues of fire, the Spirit came openly and freely to all who would receive him. The Holy Spirit gave language to the new Israel, that is, the 12 apostles and the nascent church, in order that they might grow in knowledge and understanding.

As he wrote about the descent of the Holy Spirit, Luke, the author of the Acts of the Apostles, was thinking back to the tower of Babel, when language divided humanity against itself, focused as it was on absolute domination. Now, God was using Spirit given language to unite people. In the words of a 5th century Christian poet, at Pentecost, “The humble order gathers again what arrogant people scattered.” Language is the means by which we understand our world.

Language is the means by which we are connected to one another and to God. It allows us not only to gain these things individually, but to pass them on across centuries. It is a gift from God. And yet language remains a source of division and conflict. We need the Spirit of Jesus to come with fire to purify our hearts so that our words to one another will be full of truth and grace. Let us each pray that we would be filled again with the Holy Spirit.

Yours with love, Pastor Joel


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