PentecostB, 2000

Acts 2: 1-8


Pentecost is the day when most Christians see red!

Pentecost is about freedom from fear

and release from a ‘locked- door’ mentality.

It is about allowing the breath of God

to fill every fibre of our being,

in every moment of our lives.

And Pentecost is also about hearing and experiencing

the presentness of God in a language we can understand...

Not just in Australian or French or German

or any of the Asian or Pacific languages,

but also in the language of reconciliation,


television commercials,

supermarket shopping

and school play-yards.

But for orthodox traditionalist, Pentecost is recalled as the birthday of the church.
Or was christianity 'born' with Peter's confession, or Easter or at Nicea?

What an interesting day we have here!


There are two well-known comments

which form the ‘top’ and the ‘tail’ of the traditional Pentecost story.

The ‘tail’ comment comes from the larger Pentecost story set for today.

...Amazed and astonished, they asked,

“Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language?” (Acts 2:7-8)

The ‘top’ comment comes from a story just after Easter Day.

...After [Jesus] said this, he showed them his hands and his side.

Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord  (John 20:20).

• The first or ‘tail’ comment as I have called it,

speaks of a weaving into a new inclusive community.

The idea that in Jesus and the Spirit

the diversities in humankind take on new significance.

The Spirit is the source of unity amid diversity.

She does not eliminate diversity,

but she makes it possible

to rejoice in it instead of fighting over it.

Neither Greek nor Roman,

Jew nor Gentile,

male nor female,

but all one in Christ Jesus.

Neither Irish nor Mediterranean,

neither Anglo nor Aboriginal,

neither straight nor gay,

neither ‘blue’ nor ‘maroon’,

but all one in Christ Jesus.

This is a glorious vision, not yet achieved in Christian practice (to put it mildly).

Rather, it is a goal towards which we strive

with greater or lesser success

and indeed with greater or lesser effort.

If we are unable to rejoice in diversity, the fault is ours, not God’s spirit.

The story of Pentecost, then, is the story of God’s presentness experienced again...

Not incarnate in a person, but as Spirit becoming incarnate in us.

Not in the babble of tongues, but in the gift of tongues -

the ability to hear and speak the word, each as we come to know it,

understand it

and tell it

in the uniqueness of our personhood.

And in the gift of interpretation -

to interpret the meaning of Christ’s mission

as it unfolds in our human experience, here in Curtin.

• The second or ‘top’ comment as I have called it,

is about ‘holy laughter’ as part of our faith.

No congregation, of course, is a stranger to tears and grief,

to sorrow and loss,

to tragedies and death.

Sometimes laughter does not come easy.

But sometimes the difficulty lies

not only in the kind of world in which we live,

but also in the kind of church in which we belong.

Those who like to ‘salt and pepper’ everything with a biblical verse,

are usually quick to point out

the gospels speak of the Lord’s tears,

but do not record his smiles.

But ‘holy laughter’ in the foyer and aisles is a sign of a healthy congregation.

Like when the Sunday school teacher who told me about the time

she told the parable of the Good Samaritan to her morning group.

After telling the story, she asked why the priest

didn’t go over and help the injured man.

A little girl answered:

“Because he saw that the man had already been robbed?”

You may appreciate this story, apocryphal of course!

The Prime Minister was making a public relations visit to a nursing home

and came upon a wizened old man hobbling down the corridor.

The PM took the man’s hands in his own, looked into his eyes, and said:

“Sir, do you know who I am?”

The old man replied:

“No.  But if you ask one of the nurses, she’ll tell you.”

And then there was the teacher who asked her third-graders

to write about their personal heroes.

One little girl brought home her essay and showed it to her parents.

Her father was flattered to discover his daughter had chosen him as her hero.

“Why did you pick me?” he asked expectantly.

The little girl replied:

“Because I couldn’t spell Schwarzenegger.”

Do you hear the sound of laughter here?

That is the sound of ordinary 'pentecost' people rejoicing.

And even though our individual sorrow may at times be great,

the pentecostal spirit can make us laugh.


Pentecost wasn’t a one-off experience.

It was for all time, and for all of us.

Let us breathe deeply of all that God has to offer us.