The Miracle of Pentecost Delivers a Powerful Reminder

How we all come to understand each other through God’s language of love.

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Posted in , Jun 4, 2019

Miracle of Pentecost

Pentecost Sunday—June 9 this year—marks the birthday of the church so here’s a Happy Birthday to you and your community. (When it comes to how Pentecost got its name, it all goes back to 50 days after that first Easter—50 days if you count both Easter and Pentecost. In fact, Pentecost means the 50th day.)

On the first Pentecost, recorded in the Book of Acts, Jesus’s followers were filled with the Holy Spirit, and they began to speak in other languages. More importantly they were understood in other languages.

I thought of that not long ago when I visited the church that my son, Tim, attends in Los Angeles—Saint Mary of Mariposa. It was founded over a hundred years ago by Japanese-Americans in a neighborhood that was largely Japanese-American.

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In 1943, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the congregation was herded off to internment camps and the church had to shut down.

But at war’s end, they returned to their beloved church and rebuilt their lives. Over the years they moved out of the old neighborhood and other families moved in. Today the neighborhood is largely composed of Mexicans from the area of Oaxaca.

And today the church is one of many tongues.

Even as the original Japanese-American families moved away from their church, they returned to it for worship. And over time they welcomed the church’s new neighbors.

So there we were on a Sunday morning, and we sang a hymn in Japanese and English and Spanish, acknowledging the languages of all of the worshippers. 

“Look, aren’t all the people who are speaking Galileans, every one of them? How then can each of us hear them speaking in our native language?” the crowd asked at that first Pentecost.

It was the miracle of the Holy Spirit, a miracle that still goes on, no matter what your language.

God speaks the language of love, and it can be heard and understood in every tongue.  

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