Going Deeper 05.19.2021

The first reading for Pentecost Sunday... Acts 2:1-21
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.” But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day. Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’


One of the more meaningful ways of understanding what happened on Pentecost comes from seeing it as a type of reversal of the Old Testament story of the Tower of Babel.  The outcome of the efforts of those who sought to build a tower to the heavens in order to "make a name" for themselves was division.  The story points to the confusion caused by the God-induced changing from one language to many led to people scattering over the face of the earth.  One of the most horrific outcomes of sin is division.


In the Old Testament, the Festival of Pentecost/Weeks remembered the Covenant God made with Israel at Mount Sinai 50 days after the Passover event, which led to the Exodus from Egypt.  It was a time for coming together to offer the "first fruits" of the harvest as an offering of remembrance and celebration of God's rescue.  That is why so many Jews were in Jerusalem when the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples 50 days after God's "rescue" of all of His children through the death and resurrection of Jesus.


The outcome of the New Testament Pentecost was unity.  Instead of division caused by multiplying languages,  "each one heard them speaking in the native language of each."   One single language was understood by all.  


We often speak of Pentecost as the "birthday of the Church."  This unifying of God's children continues to be at the heart of the mission of the Church.  We are called to gather the scattered, sin-torn children of God back into the one redeemed family of God.


Together in His Mission,  


Mark Gabbert, Pastor

Zion Lutheran Church, Wellington


"Gratefully Growing Servants"