Making oneself understood is not always easy. So many things can separate us: another language, our gender, our ethnicity, our social class. Christian teaching - while not always borne out in practice - goes to the heart of this separation.
This year the Feast of Pentecost is celebrated on Sunday 27 May 2007. Pentecost is a Jewish Feast - a harvest festival. The first Pentecost in the Christian tradition is described in Chapter 2 of The Acts of the Apostles.
The language barrier was broken down as thousands of visitors to Jerusalem heard the Apostles, humble Galileans, speaking in other tongues, in the visitors' own languages.
Gender, ethnicity and social class are highlighted by Paul when he tells us that in Jesus Christ:
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Epistle to the Galations Chapter 3 verse 28).
Pentecost is often referred to by Christians as "the birthday of the church". It can also be a day when we take stock and ask ourselves a few questions.
- Is Pentecost truly a new day - a day of remembering new birth?
- Is it a day when people commemorate their entry into a new life, a new way of looking at the world, a new way of looking at one another?
- Do we really understand the impact of that first Pentecost when the language barrier was broken down, when cultural change under the power of the Holy Spirit in the name of Christ Jesus actually began?
- And do we understand ourselves - if we are obedient to a risen Lord, an empowering Spirit, and a creative God - to be participants in this new and ever inclusive culture?