Other languages


This past Sunday was Pentecost.  It marks the transition of the liturgical year into Ordinary Time, which lasts all the way up to Advent.

Pentecost marks the birth of the church, with the key story found in Acts 2.  It’s the one where they were all together in one room “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.”  What sounded like wind looked like tongues of fire, with each person getting a piece of the flame.  Then a different sound: they all started to speak in other languages.

From its origins, the church is multi-lingual.  Rather than having an official language, love, justice, and mercy get translated into every imaginable expression.  This is the work of the Spirit.  This is the gift of Pentecost.

What happened “suddenly” at the first Pentecost is regularly pretty slow work.  Two weeks from today our family will fly out to Guatemala.  We’ll be there for three weeks.  On weekdays we’ll each have private tutoring in Spanish.  We’re not going to get fluent, but we’re going to try to learn the basics of another language.

This too is the work of the Spirit.  Putting our minds to work to enter other worlds, bridge cultural barriers, and relate to another person on their terms rather than our own.

I see each of you translating love, justice, and mercy into whatever language the people around you speak each day, whether it be the language of children, the language of academia, the language of business or social work.  This too is the work of the Spirit.


Sunday’s baptism sermon, “Do you?” “I do.” is posted HERE.