I have the joy and opportunity to preach my first sermon to Laurel Presbyterian Church on Pentecost. Pentecost is the festival of the church where we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit. On the first Christian Pentecost, the Bible notes in the book of Acts that as some early Christians were sitting in a room, a sound like a rush of a violent wind came and the spirit descended on the people looking like tongues of fire. Sounds pretty scary to me, or pretty cool depending on how you look at it.
Then, after the spirit came, the people went out and started talking – in languages they’d never spoken before. These were real languages like English, Spanish, French, Arabic, or Chinese. God’s spirit gave some people the ability to speak in different languages so they could share the good news of Jesus. Now that’s even cooler! I have a friend who has the ability to pick up languages pretty well. I think she’s up to eight different languages she speaks fluently or semi-fluently at this point. It is a gift, and one that I don’t have myself, so I think it’s pretty neat. It’s especially neat for me to see that gift of languages used for cross-cultural communication, for peacemaking, for bringing the kingdom of God into fuller reality in the world. On Pentecost we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit, and we also celebrate all the gifts the Spirit gives to individuals and to communities, including the gift of language.