In his own language

A word from the pastor
Each one heard them speaking in his own language.
Acts 2:6b

A few years ago I was visiting the headquarters of the United Nations in New York with a colleague and dropped in at the café for a cup of coffee. There must have been fifty people in there, and at least half as many languages being spoken. The cacophony made me a little nervous and uncomfortable, even alien, unlike at the Drop Inn where just two languages are spoken. Most of us are bilingual, a few multilingual, so we know what an asset it is to speak different languages. Thus it was indeed an asset for the disciples in the Pentecost morning when the Holy Spirit came upon them and they were able to converse in the languages of the people assembled there. And each one there heard them speaking in his own language about the marvellous things God had done!

Put yourself in the shows of one of those assembled there in Jerusalem that day. If you heard Peter or any of the other disciples speaking in a language you are unfamiliar with, you would probably walk away disinterested and unconcerned. Similarly if you only spoke English and walked into the Drop Inn where everyone was conversing in German, you might walk away again. When you don't understand what's being said, you tend to stop listening. That's equally true of not being interested in what others are trying to say to you even if you happen to know the language. Conversely, one might even evesdrop into conversations if what was being discussed interested you!

I believe that along with the gift of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost came the gift of listening. We can appreciate that gift for ourselves too as we learn to listen to others — their hurts, their cries, their joys. We can learn to be interested in them and be there for them. And then it might not even matter that we don't understand their language! Hear this too, if we listen really well, we will hear God speaking to us through others and through nature — the birds, the wind, the rain and even in utter silence.

May the Spirit of Pentecost fill each one of us with the gift of listening to God and to one another!

By: Pastor Romesh Modayil, e-mail:
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