Dear sisters and brothers in Christ

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him.

As we celebrate Pentecost this year, like last year it will be rather low key event in the churches but let’s continue to seek God for the fullness of his Spirit.

Have you ever been invited to someone’s home and noticed that they do things differently to you? Consider these trivial examples: Do they say scone or scone’? Are certain words considered taboo? Do they put the milk in first or the tea bag? Then consider the further afield you may go, there will be different figures of speech, expressions and dialects and then consider all the diverse ways people have of seeing and understanding then multiply that across the world, imagine trying to communicate a message that would be both understandable and relevant.

In Acts 2 we have the story of the Holy Spirit coming on the day of Pentecost, there are of course many things I could write about on this occasion but I would like to focus on the miraculous gift of tongues that occurred on that day. What I find particularly interesting in this story is the diverse amount of people that had come to celebrate Pentecost from all over the Roman Empire. These people were described as ‘God-fearing Jews’ and whilst they would have kept to the core of their Jewish beliefs they would have also had their own peculiar ways and customs that were exclusive to the nation they lived in, just like we have our own ways of doing things today. They also had their own distinct native languages; this would have been the language they spoke to family and friends, the words they used to express their deepest feelings. But they also spoke another language, the official language of this part of the empire which was Greek; this was the standard uniform language of law, trade, commerce etc.

So why didn’t the disciples just preach in Greek to everyone in Jerusalem on that day; everyone would have understood them? Is it because God in his love for all groups of people wanted to demonstrate that he knew and cared for everyone? Through the miraculous gift of tongues on that day God spoke to these diverse groups of people in their own native language, using the words and expressions of home.

May we be encouraged this Pentecost knowing that God cares for us as individuals with all our peculiar ways of doing and being human, and may we also be challenged as we consider mission for while the Gospel of Jesus Christ is universal, its application is individual.

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us all.

Mark Chester

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