Sunday, June 4, 2017: Pentecost Sunday "Pentecost: In a Language We Understand" Fr. Carey Stone

  • Artist: My Recording
  • Title: 170604_001
  • Length: 7:15 minutes (16.6 MB)
  • Format: MP3 Stereo 44kHz 320Kbps (CBR)
Download Audio File
Plays: 2 | Downloads: 1

 Pentecost A’17

4 June 2017
Acts 2.1-21
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church
North Little Rock, Arkansas
The Rev. Carey Stone
O when the saints, go marching in, O when the saints go marching in, O Lord I want to be in that number, when the saints go marching in! Amen.
Besides the languages that are native to different countries there are also other kinds of language, there’s scientific, medical, mystical, psychological, theological, and musical language just to name a few. Add to that the different dialects within languages and we can see the endless ways we humans communicate. Sometimes these languages can bring people together and at other times can create barriers. 
A few years back when I was on a poetic tour of the English Lake District my dialect created some sparks. One of the tour guides said, “You know Carey, it’s hard for me to believe that anyone really talks like you!” I promptly quipped, “You know Edward, it’s hard for me to believe that anyone really talks like you do.” We each are more comfortable with our own dialect, and have a natural gravitation toward those who speak the same language as we do. 
I’ll never forget being on a European tour with my high school choir and after being in France for a couple of days we were beginning to tire of people who were unwilling to speak English. The last evening in France we were in a fine hotel restaurant and during a lull in our conversation I thought I overheard English being spoken but not just any kind of English; it was “southern English!” 
We discovered that there was a group of Texans just a few feet away. When they discovered we were from Arkansas they started singing the “Yellow Rose of Texas.” We answered with “The eyes of Texas are upon you – get ‘em off, get’em off, get ‘em off!” The maitre d didn’t know what to make of our noisy American outburst, but this old rivalry and familiar language brought great comfort to us weary Arkansans and our new Texan friends.  
Sometimes languages have combined with other languages to make new languages take English for example; it’s made up of words from Old English, Danish, Norse, French, Latin, Greek, Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, and Spanish. 
In today’s service we have benefited from a musical language called Jazz. In the late 1800’s in New Orleans African rhythms, European instruments, and negro spirituals collided to create a whole new sound that blew all around the world with a musical language that had never been heard of before, it was wild, jubilant, party music that made people feel alive when they heard it and made them start to tap their toes and dance in the streets of New Orleans. Improvisation is a regular feature of jazz where new music is spontaneously made right on the spot! 
I think Jazz is a great metaphor for Pentecost when the Holy Spirit like a mighty and rushing wind filled the upper room and the disciples would never be the same it caused them to carry on so much that the crowd that saw them accused them of being drunk!  More importantly the Spirit turned ordinary people into dreamers and visionaries, preachers and teachers, prophets and evangelists, helpers and servers, writers and poets and into Spirit filled musicians! The unlikely candidates of the day even slaves were enabled to prophesy! 
I’ve read this passage from Acts many times but a phrase leapt off the page that I don’t recall ever noticing before and I think it is the word for St. Luke’s for Pentecost. When the Spirit came in to the upper room that day it says, “Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each one of them.” As the disciples were standing there in that room a single tongue of fire came to rest upon each one of the disciples, and I believe upon us as Christ’s present day disciples. Each of us has been given a tongue that enables us to speak the gospel in a way that no one else can. 
What struck the listeners that were gathered there that day was that they heard disciples speaking the good news in their own language – a language that they could understand.  We are each unique and because of the way we speak as individuals, there are people that you will be able to reach that I never can and vice versa. And of course we don’t just speak with our words we speak with our lives, by our habits and hobbies, and by the things that capture our interest – God needs someone just like you and you are enough to do what God needs you to do. 
Mother Theresa once said, “God has not called us to be successful but to be faithful.”  Be faithful to the tongue you have been given and fluently speak with your words and your lives the Good News that Jesus is alive and in love with everybody! 
Pentecost is about the Holy Spirit, alive and loose and speaking in tongues, in languages of all kinds, Parthians, Medes, Elamites, Phrygians, Pamphilians, Texans, and even Arkansans! Amen!
Do those little bits of good where you are, it is those little bits of good put together that overwhelms the world. – Desmond Tutu