Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Today’s text

Acts 2:5-8

They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak different languages as the Spirit gave them power to express themselves. Now there were devout men living in Jerusalem from every nation under heaven, and at this sound they all assembled, and each one was bewildered to hear these men speaking his own language. They were amazed and astonished. 'Surely,' they said, 'all these men speaking are Galileans? How does it happen that each of us hears them in his own native language?


It had been years, but it happened again last week. I joined hands with another man to pray. Seconds into my prayer for the healing of his heart and relationships, a soft and persistent river of sound flowed from his depths.

It was no language I understood, yet I understood everything. He was speaking in tongues.

A rhythmic pattern of consonants stumbling over a few vowels streamed from his lips in a counterpoint to my attempt to put his need into words. However strange, the stream of sound didn’t overwhelm or drown out my speaking. It moved in tandem, a continuo bass line beneath my prayer, a foundation holding it up, affirming plain language in an unexpected harmony.

It didn’t feel strange, nor was I was startled even for a moment. It all fit together. Two voices, two ‘languages’ in one human speaking, from the Spirit within us to the Spirit who was so far beyond us, seeking the full presence of the Holy Mystery who bound us together, though an hour before we’d never met.

I have no idea what my prayer partner was saying, nor do I feel any need to know whether my companion in prayer had any idea what was coming out of his mouth.

It didn’t matter. I understood that God was being praised, honored and sought. The core of our humanity was affirmed and expressed as words, understood and incomprehensible, flowed from us, bearing our need and hunger for the Inexpressible One, who transcends all human speaking.

Unity in love and purpose was spoken in a harmony of words the meaning of which transcended our abilities to comprehend.

Pentecost happened again. As always, it was a gift. We did nothing to make it happen, except, I suppose, to open our mouths and speak from our hearts.

Pr. David L. Miller

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Today’s text

Acts 2:1-4

When Pentecost day came round, they had all met together, when suddenly there came from heaven a sound as of a violent wind which filled the entire house in which they were sitting; and there appeared to them tongues as of fire; these separated and came to rest on the head of each of them. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak different languages as the Spirit gave them power to express themselves.


Wind, fire, energy, movement … all in all it sounds like what happens when my grandsons visit, including strange languages.

The boys descend on the house with sound and fury and exhausting dynamism. Ethan, at two, the youngest, gestures emphatically, arms open wide as he declaims in a language unknown to me but for a stray word here and there.

So it is with the Spirit, and this shatters conventional understandings of church, worship and of being Christian.

The Spirit is about one thing: life.

From the beginning to the end of the Bible when the Spirit shows up there is life. With the appearance of the air, the wind, the breath, the Spirit of God, all the same thing, life happens. There is movement, energy, purpose, compassion and joy.

Without Spirit we are dispirited, disheartened, discouraged, dejected; the wind is knocked out of us. We don’t feel truly alive; our arms and spirits fall limp and lifeless.

So send out your Spirit, Jesus, the Spirit of your resurrected life, for I want to feel alive. I want to be alive.

I want to feel the pulse of your energy, joy and purpose in my inner being. I want to be filled with courage for the purpose of God, the desire of the Spirit, which is the fullness of life, not just for me but for all God’s creation.

The life to which you call us is not one of playing safe, being cautious, avoiding risks or fearing failure. It is life come fully alive, filled with courage and hope, a life beyond the fear of giving myself--all my energies and joys--to the world that you so love.

The Spirit moves the desire to pour myself out fully, so that when I come to the end there is nothing left to be given, for it has all been spilled out on the great field of living.

This honors you. This praises you and glorifies you who loved his own and loved them to the end, until all was finished and there was nothing left of you to give.

Can I live like that? Can I be so fully given? Can this heart so easily cowed and anxious at the normal exchanges of living begin to live into the fullness of Spirit, speaking the language of given-ness that every soul understands?

There are days, my Lord, my best days. May today be such a day. And tomorrow I will return again … with the same prayer.

Pr. David L. Miller