Acts 2:1-21 (NRSV)
2When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
5Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. 6And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. 7Amazed and astonished, they asked, "Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? 9Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11Cretans and Arabsin our own languages we hear them speaking about God's deeds of power." 12All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "What does this mean?" 13But others sneered and said, "They are filled with new wine."
14But 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. 15Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o'clock in the morning. 16No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: 17'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. 18Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. 19And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. 20The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord's great and glorious day. 21Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.'
We humans like to celebrate. The 4th of July brings people together to remember our founders’ declaration of independence and celebrate our freedom as a nation. On Thanksgiving Day we remember the settlers who knew their dependence on God and on indigenous people to survive.
During the coronavirus pandemic, we have longed to gather with others to celebrate. Waiting for lifting of restrictions has tested our patience. For followers of Jesus after his death and resurrection, waiting for what would come next tested their patience and trust in his promises. With other faithful Jews, they gathered in Jerusalem for the Pentecost celebration to celebrate the wheat harvest.
Beyond every expectation, God did a new thing! Wind and fire witnessed to the presence of God. Strangers heard in their own languages when his followers spoke of Jesus. God’s Spirit broke down human-made barriers and brought people together. A prophecy fulfilled! The Spirit given!
God of surprises, break into our lives with the power of your Spirit to fire us up so we speak boldly of your presence that gives us new life as your beloved. Give us new vision to see your love for all people, which unites us beyond our expectations. Amen.