At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit showed up with sound and force like the wind. Those present saw what seemed to be tongues like fire. In this powerful way, the Spirit brought unity among the people. When the Holy Spirit showed up, the people could understand each other. Although they were from all over the world, they were able to speak each other’s languages and understand each other for the first time. God did a new thing.

God is still doing a new thing in our lives today, still firing us up. The Holy Spirit remains with us, still burning like a hot flame and blowing like wind, opening our ears to hear and understand the people around us, empowering us for the rest of our days so we might share the story of Jesus.

What would happen if even more we started really hearing and understanding the language spoken by our neighbor — not just the spoken language of our geography but the language of our lived experiences?

As we go through life, do we hear our neighbor crying for help? Do the rich hear the voice of the poor? Do those with jobs hear the voice of those without? Do those with homes hear the voice of those who live on the street? Do adults hear the voice of youth? Do those who do not have physical mobility issues hear the voice of those who do?

In our church, do we hear the voice of people with a different lived Lutheran experiences than our own? Do Lutherans who are white hear the voices of people of color? Do lifelong Lutherans hear the voices of new Lutherans? Do Lutherans from one locale hear the voices of Lutherans from another locale? Do those who are already active Lutherans hear the voices of those who are visiting, hoping to find their place?

Do we not only hear but understand? Do we hear the story of Jesus in the stories of those all around us? The Holy Spirit is blowing among us, sparking a fire within us, opening our ears to hear the voices that go unheard among us, inviting us to move beyond hearing and understanding to action — to be the hands and voice and feet of God in the community.

Understanding each other’s language was just the beginning for the people gathered in that room on Pentecost. They left there and went all over the world to share the good news of Jesus’ love and salvation. Understanding each other is just the first step. Next we are led by the Spirit into mission to bring about change.

This Pentecost, may the Holy Spirit blow us out of our comfort zones into new places and new spaces to engage people we have never engaged before. May we be ignited with new ways to serve to bring about the mission of God in our communities.

May the winds of the Holy Spirit lead us to break down boundaries that divide. May the fire of the Holy Spirit ignite us to speak life to a broken world.

Come, Holy Spirit. Come!

Tiffany Chaney
Tiffany C. Chaney serves is pastor of Gathered by Grace, a synodically authorized worshiping community of the ELCA, in Montgomery, Ala., and is communications chair for the African Descent Lutheran Association.

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