One of the things we discovered on our recent trip to France is that if you go out of season and off the beaten track, people do not speak English. Secretly we were quite glad, because we believe that if you go somewhere else you should fit in with them, not expect them to fit in with you – and we got by pretty well, and enjoyed the French interaction – even managing to make a phone call in French!
The Pentecost reading however, is a total reversal of that. There are people living in Jerusalem from “every country in the world” and yet each and every one of them heard God’s message in their own language. They didn’t need interpreters, they didn’t need to struggle along grasping the odd word, they understood what God was saying to them, because it was in their own language.
But I wonder how often in the church we turn this around?
Do we speak in ways people can understand? Or have we developed our own language that no one but those from a church culture understand? Do we do things that make perfect sense to us who do them every week, but are unintelligible to anyone from outside the church? Have we turned God’s message from being accessible, to beyond the grasp of most people in society?
People need so much to be able to hear God’s word to them in a language they can understand, in a way they can grasp. God did that at Pentecost as the Holy Spirit blew through the disciples and gave them his power and his message. Let’s make sure that we haven’t made it all incomprehensible again!
Thank you for the mighty rushing wind of your word,
for the flame of your passion;
we pray that they may equip us
to speak your word,
to bring your message
to the world;
that it might understand
your peace –
and come to know you.