2When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.3Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
5Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. 6And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each.7Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? 9Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” 12All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”
14But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. 15Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. 16No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: 17‘In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. 18Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.19And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. 20The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day. 21Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
Have you ever noticed how different ears can be? It’s not just about the colour they are, but they also come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Some stick out, some are thin, some look like there is a maze to get into them. I discovered last week, even the tones we hear are different, we think we are singing a note but actually we can be way out to other people’s ear. Evidently you need to tune your ear in.. This is not to mention the native language that is easy for us to hear, that naturally makes sense to us. Those words spoken to us in the beginning by those around us..
Sometimes it is hard to hear.. When someone is speaking to me for the first time and I am not used to their accent I really have to concentrate so that I can hear them and understand. Or when someone is speaking really softly or even really loudly, or if they are explaining to me a new concept that I know nothing about, or something I don’t want to hear..
Often when we think of the miracle of Pentecost we think how amazing was it that Jesus disciples were speaking in all these different languages, but the miracle is not just in the speaking, it is also in the hearing.. Finding the right words to say in a way that they are not blocked by only language but also preconceptions and assumptions, that too is a major miracle.. Not surprising Jesus says often in the gospels “If Anyone has ears to hear let them hear!”
It is funny trying to write in other languages, at first I was going to try to write the characters in which others speak, but I could see how easily putting one stroke in the wrong place could change the words to say something totally different.. I think sometimes we are afraid to speak because we are afraid that our words are not going to be just right and may in essence say something that we never intended it to mean.. Our words can be trapped in the cage of fear. The disciples had good reason to be afraid, it was not exactly a safe place to be talking about the life and teaching of Jesus, but who he was and how it had impacted on their life could not be contained.
We can think that Pentecost was a one-off thing that happened long ago and that the Spirit does not move like this today.. I don’t think this is the case, people are still being open to the good news of God’s love and how it can transform their lives and that good news still does. Everytime someone has the courage to speak the good news and every time someone hears it, the Spirit moves in the way She did at Pentecost.
Do you feel you need to listen ? or is it to have the courage to speak? Are your words trapped in fear?
If you are brave enough to speak, I pray you may find the words and language to speak it in their “native words” and may the one you are speaking to have the ears to listen.