Acts 2: 1-4 (NIV)
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. Utterly amazed, they asked: "Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs-we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!" Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, "What does this mean?"
I've read that passage of scripture before. I've marveled at the power of the Holy Spirit, at the power of God. I've imagined what it must have been like for the people at that time to speak in their own language and who didn't speak that language understand them, in their own native tongue. WHAT??!! Totally beyond me.
Sunday we remembered Pentecost. We wore red, to signify the tongues of fire and we had 10 people in our congregation come up and read this scripture passage, in different languages. It was read through in English first, with one person signing (ASL) and then it started, this beautiful reading of scripture. One person started, then another, then another, then another until at the end 8 people were reading the same scripture passage together yet each in their own language.
I stood just off to the side listening, waiting to lead the congregation in a song. As the scripture was read, I started to get goose bumps. Soon it was full body shivers. By the time the last word was spoken tears were streaming down my face. I got it. I heard it. I didn't even have to understand the languages, I got what God had done. The Holy Spirit leveled the playing field. God said, "I'm here, not just for one group but for everyone. You're all mine." It was a beautiful reminder of the power of God, the power of the Holy Spirit and an important reminder that Jesus didn't just die for me or for people who talk like me, but for everyone. No matter what their language.
Scripture came to life for me on Sunday. And it was beautiful.