Worship Matters

Selections from Acts 2 MSG (markings mine)

1-4 When the Feast of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Without warning there was a sound like a strong wind, gale force—no one could tell where it came from. It filled the whole building. Then, like a wildfire, the Holy Spirit spread through their ranks, and they started speaking in a number of different languages as the Spirit prompted them.

5-11There were many Jews staying in Jerusalem just then, devout pilgrims from all over the world. When they heard the sound, they came on the run. Then when they heard, one after another, their own mother tongues being spoken, they were thunderstruck. They couldn’t for the life of them figure out what was going on, and kept saying, “Aren’t these all Galileans? How come we’re hearing them talk in our various mother tongues?

“They’re speaking our languages, describing God’s mighty works!”
12 Their heads were spinning; they couldn’t make head or tail of any of it. They talked back and forth, confused: “What’s going on here?”

13 Others joked, “They’re drunk on cheap wine.”

Peter Speaks Up

That’s when Peter stood up and, backed by the other eleven, spoke out with bold urgency: “Fellow Jews, all of you who are visiting Jerusalem, listen carefully and get this story straight. These people aren’t drunk as some of you suspect. They haven’t had time to get drunk—it’s only nine o’clock in the morning. This is what the prophet Joel announced would happen:

“In the Last Days,” God says,
“I will pour out my Spirit
on every kind of people:
Your sons will prophesy,
also your daughters;
Your young men will see visions,
your old men dream dreams.
When the time comes,
I’ll pour out my Spirit
On those who serve me, men and women both,
and they’ll prophesy.

That day about three thousand took him at his word, were baptized and were signed up. They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers.

43-45 Everyone around was in awe—all those wonders and signs done through the apostles! And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common. They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person’s need was met.

46-47 They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God. People, in general, liked what they saw. Every day their number grew as God added those who were saved.

Fascinating, this notion of a single language group, the Galileans, speaking in foreign tongues so that all present could hear the Jesus Story.

Interesting, that out of the dramatic, powerful display of gale-force winds and tongues of wildfire, the first evidence of the birth of the Christian Church was clear, direct communication so that understanding could occur, impossible without a common language.

Later in the story, we hear of the less dramatic evidence of the Spirit’s work as these new Christians experienced radical unity and harmony.

“The goal of the Spirit’s work in us is…”

I was intrigued by this sentence as I was reading a book from the Orthodox tradition this past week. The author’s answer would have made no sense to me in the years before I knew what Eastern Orthodoxy was. I have needed translators to help me understand this “new tongue” of Christian experience and understanding from Eastern Europe.

We’ve been coming at Pentecost slant in our daily emails this week, slowly but surely appreciating the breadth and depth of the Spirit’s (most often) non-dramatic Ways with us.

The Grand Adventure of Pondering the Spirit’s Ways is a lifetime’s adventure for those who love God.

I wonder how you would finish the sentence,

“The goal of the Spirit’s work in us is…”?

Imagine listening to others in the Foothills community answer the question.

Imagine what the Spirit might want to do in and amongst us if we were willing to commit to radical unity, to the yes, hard work of experiencing wonderful harmony that occurs only when there is genuine communication when people speak and are understood when people speak good news that they didn’t understand until they were “heard into understanding,” when people are committed to listening until they understand the other, committed to speaking until they are understood.