Communication can be difficult.
Perhaps you’ve played the telephone game, where persons in a circle whisper a sentence to the person beside them. The sentence is passed around the circle, and by the time it reaches the last person the sentence has become quite different from how it started out. The saying, “I know you think you understand what you thought I said, but I’m not sure you are aware that what you heard is not what I meant” resonates in our experience. And in spite of the explosion of social media—email, Facebook, Twitter—the difficulties in communication only seem to be compounded.
But on the day of Pentecost, as reported in Acts 2, a miracle happens. Not only do people acquire the gift of speaking clearly. They also receive the gift of hearing. Everyone on whom the Spirit at the first Pentecost descends hears clearly, in their own language, the word of God spoken by others.
Pentecost will be the focus of our worship on Pentecost Sunday, May 24. We note that at the original Pentecost, it was not just the preachers or religious functionaries but ordinary people who were empowered by the Spirit of God to speak the word of God—in other words, to prophesy. Everyone—old and young, male and female, people of all classes, including slaves—received the ability to speak of what God is doing in their midst.
Ordinary people, using ordinary words, to speak the extraordinary words of God. That was God’s gift on the first Pentecost. It is what Pentecost continues to be about today.