Volume 33, Issue 12
Pentecost Encourages Us to Be Who We Are
This was the first Pentecost Sunday I’ve ever missed as a full-time minister. For me, it is one of the most important days in the Christian Year. I love the pageantry of congregants in their fiery-colored clothes, the procession of flowing banners and ribbons, the ecstatic multitude of spoken languages, and the sermon and songs that ignite our hearts. I am grateful for Dan Thompson and Melissa Walker-Luckett for standing in the gap for Harry and me as we were both out of town.
It is important to remember that Pentecost is a season just like Easter. The season of Pentecost is the longest of the liturgical seasons and spans from Pentecost Sunday until the first Sunday of Advent. You might recognize the Season after Pentecost by the deep green color of Ordinary Time. It is the longest of the seasons because we are beckoned to live in the power of the Spirit not only in the fiery and passionate moments of our lives, but also in the ordinary and mundane.
Rev. Melissa Walker-Luckett preached that God uses all of our differences to bring about God’s purposes and reveal God’s face in our beautiful diversity. She spoke of Princeton professor, Eric Barreto, who noted that the story of Pentecost in Acts 2 is often seen as a reversal of the tower of Babel story in Genesis 11, when humans were scattered across the earth to develop different cultures and languages. “If Pentecost were a reversal of Babel, the disciples would have all spoken the same language” – perhaps some heavenly language God gave them, Barreto said. “God does not eradicate our differences at Pentecost; God embraces our differences. The church starts as a place where people of many gifts are together.” The Babel story and the Pentecost story show that “God is still creating the kind of world God wants” – not one where like-minded people build towers to God and huddle behind walls and locked doors to keep others out, but “a place of many languages, a place where walls and towers get torn down.”
So, what does it look like to live as Pentecost people? How might the world be changed when we live out our baptisms in the power of the Holy Spirit? We would be a people who build churches of inclusion rather than prideful towers to the divine. We would also reveal the vibrant and beautiful diversity of a loving God. As a Pentecost people who lean into the diversity of God, we don’t have to be someone we are not meant to be. We are created unique, special, and loved. If you are who God created you to be, living out the Spirit of God in your life to enliven and empower the world, then you are who you are meant to be.
Pentecost encourages all of us to be who we are in all of our beautiful diversity. Because it is in that diversity, people see the face of God. And I see the face of God in you, Royal Lane Baptist Church, in the immigrant, in the incarcerated, in the poor, in the rich, in the depressed, in the lonely, in the fulfilled. You are all of God’s created beings. So, speak your personal language, be unique, be bold, and be a fiery love in the world. For if you do, you will live out Pentecost and spread the Spirit of diversity and inclusive love to all people.