The story of Pentecost has been liked by some biblical scholars as Babel reversed. In the Old Testament (Genesis 11: 1-9), there is a story that seeks to explain why there are different languages in the world and confusion in our understanding of the world’s design and purpose. At the heart of the story is a crucial observation about human beings seeking to become Godlike creatures, building a city and a tower to reach heaven in order to challenge the authority and power of the creator. God confuses their attempts by garbling the speech of the builders.
The story we are looking at today reminds us that in order to build the Kingdom of God in our time and space; each of us needs God to restore our understanding of self. Pentecost invites us to be no longer confused. The resurrection of Jesus is the beginning of God’s Kingdom being enacted out in our calling and purpose, as we live in relation to each other and to God. It is the work of the Holy Spirit in all of our lives that enables us to work together as a team of builders, building for the glory of God.
Remain with us ‘Our Father’
Let heaven touch our worlds
Inspect our building plans
Question our motives and aspirations
Do not remove your Spirit from our midst
Create with in us a desire to build
Not in bricks and mortar
But within our hearts
Reaching beyond ourselves
What you have called us to be
Your new creation.
3 Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
5 Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. 6 And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. 7 Amazed and astonished, they asked, ‘Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? 9 Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.’ 12 All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘What does this mean?’