Sunday, January 22, 2006

God Speaks in the Vernacular: Some Thoughts on Pentecost

The second chapter of the biblical Book of Acts describes the Spirit coming to the first followers of Jesus. What did they do? "They started speaking in a number of different languages as the Spirit prompted them."” The response from the watching crowd was astonishment: "Then when they heard, one after another, their own mother tongues being spoken, they were thunderstruck." These Galileans, they exclaimed, "They're speaking our languages, describing God's mighty works!"

The description is certainly miraculous and astounding--—so much so that we might miss another significant point for today: Everyone would have probably understood one common, though second, language, Greek. What'’s most significant in this giving the Spirit? The first Christians were given the ability to speak in the language of the people. God wanted to speak to people in their native tongue, their vernacular, and the language of their dreams.

What are those languages today? Popular music, film, science, business--—you name it, Christians are called to speak in one of those languages. More on this in future postings...

1 comment:

starrwine said...


I couldn't agree more. How do we speak in the language of the people? How do we tell the gospel story in the native tongue? I've got some ideas and most of them involve investigating and reinterpreting secural movies, stories, and music...God is speaking out there, and we are called to listen and respond.

On that note, if you haven't yet read "Everything Bad is Good for You", I think it is a worthwhile read for pastors. It makes the argument that not everything out there in the world is all that bad. In fact, it makes you wonder if the church is less relevant than in years past in large part because it has stopped trying to stimulate and challenge people to think! Too much tradition protection and not enough engagement. Can we offer worship that is both an offering of thanksgiving and a challenge from the divine?