Acts 2:1-21 (NRSV)
Chapter 2When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. Verse 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. Verse 3Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. Verse 4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
Verse 5Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. Verse 6And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Verse 7Amazed and astonished, they asked, "Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? Verse 8And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Verse 9Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Verse 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Verse 11Cretans and Arabs-in our own languages we hear them speaking about God's deeds of power." Verse 12All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "What does this mean?" Verse 13But others sneered and said, "They are filled with new wine."
Verse 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. Verse 15Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o'clock in the morning. Verse 16No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: Verse 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. Verse 18Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. Verse 19And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. Verse 20The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord's great and glorious day. Verse 21Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.'
In my community, Interfaith Ministry groups have helped facilitate awareness and appreciation for the rich diversity of faith traditions in the Central Valley of California. Through intentional dialogue, we’ve discovered that what we hold in common far outweighs our differences. Acts 2 accentuates cultural diversity and surprising mutual understanding as praying disciples began speaking in languages not their own. The bewildered crowd heard, each in their own language. No one needs to give up their personal or cultural identity in order to become a homogeneous one-size fits all church. Faith communities are stronger when able to hear the “other’s” language. Cultural distinctiveness and commonalities are both God-given. The Holy Spirit’s activity described in Acts 2 encourages us to engage collaboratively with multicultural faith communities and to anticipate a time when authentic understanding and deeper appreciation will be the norm. That too will be the work of the Holy Spirit.
Almighty God, your Spirit brooded over primordial waters, breathed life into dry bones, appeared as flames over the heads of praying people. Breathe on us afresh; stir us to speak, hear, and act as Spirit-filled people. Amen.