This Sunday is the Feast of Pentecost, when the Church marks the coming of the Holy Spirit on the disciples. The Spirit descended upon them like flames of fire, and there was great wind. All around them were amazed, because they suddenly heard these disciples speaking in languages not their own – through gifts that came from the Holy Spirit. Astounding experience for the disciples and all who heard them. This ability to “speak in tongues” became highly revered in the early Church, and those who had that gift sometimes seemed to place themselves above those who did not have this gift.
Some years later, the Apostle Paul would write these words to the Church in Corinth:
“…. Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses. For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body– Jews or Greeks, slaves or free– and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
1 Corinthians 12:3b-13
Many gifts, one Spirit. Each one of us is gifted in one way or another. Singers, poets, gardeners, carpenters, engineers, comics, cooks… you get the picture. The challenge for each one of us is to not only discover our gifts, but then turn those gifts to good use, all to the Glory of God.
Pentecost marked the beginning of the active ministry of Jesus’ disciples, and the beginning of what we know as The Church. Just as God was made known to many through hearing their own languages, God calls us to welcome and care for all of God’s people, and all of Creation, through our words and our actions; through the good use of all our gifts and talents. By our words and by our actions we proclaim the message of God’s love throughout the world God has entrusted to our care. It is an awesome responsibility – and an equally awesome opportunity.
Let us pray:
Almighty God, on the day of Pentecost you opened the way of eternal life to every race and nation by the promised gift of your Holy Spirit: Shed abroad this gift throughout the world by the preaching of the Gospel, that it may reach to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Peace and blessing,