I heard a story the other day, an amusing story, about a boy who was wandering around the narthex of a large downtown church one Sunday morning and stopped and examined a large bronze plaque that was hung on the wall.
“What are all those names up there?” he asked one of the ushers.
“Those are the names of people who died in the service.” the usher replied.
Curious, the boy asked the usher – “which service, the 9:30 service or the 11 o’clock service?”
I am happy to report today that we are about, what we are celebrating, is a birth – not a death – the birth of the church – the birth of Christ in you and me – and in all who call on his name.
It is a significant day – the day on which the first believers came alive in their faith, the day when the Rock upon which Christ planted his church began to support and uphold an incredible new life – a life that has existed since the world began, but which was poured out in a special fashion and took on flesh in you and me much as it took life in Jesus, the Son of Mary, the Son of God so long ago.
Pentecost is an event the world has long been promised and which the people of God have long awaited.
Pentecost is the reversal of what occurred at the Tower of Babel when, because of our sinfulness, we became unable to understand one another.
It is the gifting of God to make us one – and to make us one in the way he is one.
Pentecost is our becoming Christ in the world. It is God taking on flesh – not only in the least of those to whom we give water to drink or clothes to wear; but taking on flesh in us.
Pentecost gives us the eyes to see and the ears to hear.
The eyes to see God is in the details, God is in the flesh – as well as in the Spirit. And the ears to hear him speaking in our hearts and upon the lips of others – in the rush of the wind.
The eyes to see and the ears to hear – as one – and as unique persons valued and treasured so much by God that God comes to us as we are and makes us even more truly who we are when we are His.
The story of the birth of the church, of that day some fifty days after the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus that Jews and Christians call Pentecost – tells us that this what God has done – and is yet doing.
The followers of Jesus are given the ability to speak the languages of all those who are assembled in the city and beyond. God grants we might understand one another and we might understand the good news – in just the way we need to hear it.
Much as God communicates to each one of us here today.
We hear the gospel in our own language, in our images, with our own metaphors, with our own ears.
Some today will be encouraged to spend more time in praise and wonder to thank God for blessings, others will hear that the power they need for tomorrow’s trials and tribulations will come, still others will take heart – knowing God is present to them at all times.
Whatever it is – it will be filled with God – and uniquely yours.
Pentecost is the birth of the Church. It is God amongst us in power making us not simply a group of believers but Christ in the world unafraid empowered bearing the cross out of love, and being raised from the Grave in glory.
We here today are a Pentecost People. The Spirit has been and is being poured out upon us. The gift of God is just below the surface in our minds and hearts, and to the right and to the left of us – above us and below us, to the front and to the rear.