May 20, 2018

Pentecost Versus Babel


Scripture: All of them (the disciples) were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability…And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native tongue of each. Acts 2: 4, 6

The arrival of the Holy Spirit on this Sunday, the Pentecost, is the antidote to the Tower of Babel incident. In that case the people were acting as if they could be God. At the time all peoples spoke one language. Because they could speak one language they could conspire together in their attempts to reach the “heavens” thus being closer to God and more like God. However, God foiled their attempt by confusing their languages thus making it more difficult to scheme together in their plans to be more God-like.

Then on this day, in a scene reminiscent of the creation story in Genesis, the Holy Spirit comes in the form of a wind and tongues of fire. The wind is the breath of God brooding over the waters of creation. The fire is the symbol of the sacred presence not unlike the burning bush from which Moses heard God speaking. In this case we have the  creation of a new world where all peoples will be able to hear the word of God that the disciples, and us, were speaking.

What is the difference one asks? In Babel people used their God-given gifts to pursue their own ends, to be like God. On Pentecost the world is given the means to speak about God and the Good News about Jesus Christ. On Pentecost all peoples are given the ability to hear the “Good News” in their own language. Here the disciples, and by extension all believers, were able to do the work of God to better the world with the Good News about Jesus Christ and what he has done for all creation.
Confusion turns to understanding-the true miracle of Pentecost. Amen.

Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, we thank you for what you have done for creation. May we be unselfish, as you were unselfish, and place more importance on spreading the Good News than on our own selfish needs. You are savior of all creation. May we always remember this and  be grateful for your unselfish life and death on the cross. May we always remember that you gave us the Resurrection Hope on Easter morning. Amen.