Lectionary Readings for Pentecost Sunday, May 19. Acts 2:1-21 or Genesis11:1-9, Ps 104:24-34, 35b, Rom 8: 14-17, John 14:8-17, 25-27.
There are times I love the lectionary! The way scriptures are paired up can lead to new thoughts and helpful comparisons I doubt I'd see without help. The Acts and Genesis passages are amazing read side by side!
Acts 2 is the familiar Pentecost story of the Holy Spirit as poured out in the cosmopolitan streets of Jerusalem.(Sometimes we get stuck on the speaking in tongues, but that's not what this is about! Although, perhaps today's technology could be looked at as a new form of speaking in tongues and reaching the nations!)
The story is about the "globalization of the good news." The variety of people impacted is astounding. Included are Jews and converts from every nation under heaven. The list even includes Cretans and Arabs and Libyans and Romans, and Egyptians....Then Peter goes on to expand the list with sons and daughters, young and old, men and women. The news of Jesus is inclusive in ways the world had never seen. "And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." The good news is globalized and available for all cultures and ages and genders. It is meant to be shared widely to unify all varieties of people through an understanding that God's spirit is available to all. A glorious globalization!
The Tower of Babel story is also about globalization, but here it's not so glorious. Where people unite for the wrong reasons, to build for their own selfish power and purposes, the result is a scattered disunity.
In an increasingly "globalized" world, here is both encouragement and caution. It's encouraging that more and more, various cultures and religions and countries are able to talk with each other, co-operate, and learn together. Where we do these things in a spirit of humility, wanting to serve God and care for people, we accomplish amazing things. The hungry are fed, the hurting are helped, the earth is respected, and people acknowledge God. (Acts 2:41 "Those who accepted his message were baptized and about 3 thousand were added to their number that day.") Where we "globalize" in ways that take advantage of cheap labour and oppress people, rip resources from the land in a frenzy for profit over purpose, and use power for the gain of the few and the hurt of the many, then things eventually fall apart. (Gen 11:8 "So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city.") The message here is a great one for our world today! As a society we must listen to God and put purpose before profit. We have to live and act as if we really truly believe that God loves all nations, all ages, all genders, all people.
In the Psalm, it's interesting that one little sentence in verse 35 is omitted. The one that calls for sinners to vanish. Why remove this? In light of the Acts passage, the sinners vanish because they call on God's name. Let's have more vanishing like this!
John 14:27 "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."