it’s pentecost, ya’ll, and walls are coming down

It’s Pentecost, ya’ll, and walls are coming down.

I’ve read and studied Acts 2 for years but tonight I heard something new when the preacher talked about the miracle of everyone hearing the gospel procaimed in their own tongue.

I was struck by the amazing, barrier-breaking, outlandish and lavish ways God extends God’s self in order that someone somewhere would believe the Good News. The miracle of people speaking in languages they do not know but some do, and the miracle of some hearing their language while someone may be speaking another, is nothing short of Divine Grace saying, “I love you so much that I want nothing getting in the way of you hearing this news.” Speaking in tongues, in this instance, is perhaps less about a specific thing that happens when the Holy Spirit falls and more about a God willing to use whatever means necessary in order that some might be saved.

Pentecost is about tearing down walls.

This has implications in 2018, as it did then. Today there are people who can’t hear the Good News because of walls. They have walls because they have been hurt by the church or shown a distorted, sinful picture of God through the church’s actions or inaction. They have walls because of broken homes or abuse or addiction or fear. They have walls because they can’t imagine anyone truly loving them because no one has ever stayed, or walls because someone important told them at some point that they were unworthy of love.

Walls abound. But where walls abound, grace abounds even more.

That’s what I heard today at Pentecost. The way the gospel is proclaimed today may not break my walls or your walls, but it’s breaking down the walls of someone somewhere. I’m sure in Acts 2 there were many conversations after the fact where people said, “I didn’t hear it like that,” even though they all heard essentially the same thing: God loves you and sent his son Jesus Christ to save the world, including YOU. Where and how people are hearing this message, even if it’s not in the “tongue” you and I might speak, we should rejoice and be glad.

What if in 2018 the Church seized the power of Pentecost – lavish Grace – and ceased to criticize the ways in which someone else is proclaiming the Good News and instead celebrated everywhere we witness walls coming down? I may not say it the way you would say it, and you may not say it the way I would need it, but perhaps we can trust that God is bigger than our language and so long as we are lifting up Jesus, God can sort out the details among those who understand your tongue or mine.

Everywhere that walls are tumbling and people are hearing the name of Jesus is reason to rejoice and be glad.

It’s Pentecost, ya’ll.

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