Rev. Max Grant is the senior pastor at Second Congregational Church of Greenwich in Connecticut.
Scripture: Acts 2:6 (NRSV)
And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each.
Reflection: The Revival of Pentecost
I was invited to an outdoor summer tent “revival" once.
I put that in quotation marks because that wasn’t really a tradition of the church that was holding it.
But they needed a lot to happen in the summer because that’s when the people were in town—and the fact was, more people seemed doing other things on Sunday mornings.
So they decided to go for a revival, which at least had the benefit of never having been tried.
The problem wasn’t that nobody came. The problem was that lots of us did.
People who wore flip-flops and t-shirts. A guy in a tweed sport coat who was beet-red and sweating. Some smirking teens whose motives were unclear. A few with floppy Bibles who looked ready to double check any Scripture that might come up. And me, also wondering if I was really who they were looking for.
For all the friendliness, it felt like we weren’t the people this church was hoping to find and claim.
In whatever subtle way or ways, they let us know we didn’t really speak their language.
That’s why the church needs to keep reading the story of Pentecost.
Because the miracle that founds The Church isn’t the gathering of people who already speak the disciples’ language, with a mighty wind sweeping away 100 haystacks to reveal 100 needles ready to sign up for Coffee Hour and come to Bible study next Wednesday night.
The miracle is how the Spirit equips each of the disciples to speak someone else’s language. To meet people where they are.
It isn’t about filling the lifeboats with people just like us.
Along those lines, Pentecost isn’t about claiming ourselves to be an "alternative community” simply because we have claimed refuge here from all the other alternatives.
It’s about living into the challenge and promise that, with God and one another, the Spirit will equip us to become a new people capable of loving as Jesus loves and serving as Jesus serves.
Pentecost tells us we are the Church because we are found and claimed by that, and find ways to sing of it in a thousand tongues.
God of wind and fire, teach us as your church to become a new and holy people, committed to speaking your words in our own ways, and to listening for your voice speaking in new accents and leading us in new directions. Amen.
New Prayer Requests:
We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Drew Page at firstname.lastname@example.org
Prayers of Intercession:
- For the people of Ukraine whose lives continue to be shattered by war
- For those grieving or suffering after a mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas which left 22 dead and over a dozen injured
Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:
- For those rights and liberties we continue to enjoy in the United States due to the sacrifices of the many military personnel who died in service to this country
This Week in History:
June 2, 1865 (157 years ago) Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith signs surrenders to Union negotiators, officially ending the Civil War. The war had begun four years prior with the attack on Fort Sumter in South Carolina. More than 620,000 died in the war. Though often stated as a war about state's rights, much of the motivation beyond the war was over slavery. Debates about monuments and memorials to Confederate leaders and the use of the Confederate flag still divide the nation today nearly 160 years later.
“Study the past if you would define the future.”