The world is a smaller place than when I was a kid. I chat regularly via my computer with my son and granddaughter in Indianapolis. A video chat seemed like science fiction when I was a kid. To be able to see and hear someone far away whenever I like was only a dream when I was young.
Our regional network of churches, Mission Presbytery, has set up video conferencing equipment in strategic locations throughout South Texas so that we no longer have to drive all the way to San Antonio to participate in various committee meetings. We can go to a conference center in a local church and see and hear the meeting as can participants in Austin, Brownsville and several other locations.
Speaking and listening, communication, is what Pentecost is all about. Fifty days after the Passover celebration that led to Jesus’ death and resurrection, pious Jews from across the world gathered in Jerusalem for another holy celebration: Pentecost or the Festival of Weeks – the day the law was given to Israel through Moses at Sinai. Now God had another gift for the people.
God’s powerful Spirit blew through a group of early Christians who, only days before, had been locked into secret rooms, frightened and uncertain about their future. Yet, they were experiencing the powerful presence of their crucified friend Jesus daily. Now at Pentecost, as they received the gift of the Holy Spirit they found themselves speaking boldly about the mighty acts of God they had witnessed. All those faithful Jews around them who had come to Jerusalem from far and near to celebrate the Festival of Weeks heard the message of Jesus’ death and resurrection, each in their own language. God was reaching out to embrace all of humanity through a group of average, ordinary humans.
Our Christian faith, from the very beginning, has been a distinctive and remarkably connective religion. This faith of ours includes belief in the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, actively bringing together separate cultures, races, nations and individuals. This faith of ours is in a God whose precious gift is speaking and hearing, communication, and who is always and forever working to bring together, to mend, to reconcile you and your dear ones, you and your enemies, races, cultures, nations, until the day when all the barriers and boundaries are gone and all are one and the kingdom has come; a God who in the meantime comes to each of us, sometimes loudly, aggressively, as at Pentecost, but more often quietly, softly, moving us to open our hearts, our minds, our lives, to God and to one another.
I continue to believe that the church has an incredibly important opportunity to show a fractured society in a broken world that it is possible to preserve unity while respecting diversity. We have both the opportunity and the responsibility to show the world that it is not only possible but a good thing to love and listen to and try to understand the one with whom I deeply disagree – that is, to practice a Pentecostal connectivity.
May we be a people who communicate clearly, listen intently, and make ourselves available to God’s Holy Spirit. May we overcome our differences because of our faith, rather than building walls between ourselves and others because of our faith. May we be renewed by the power of Pentecost. Amen.