Pentecost C, 2016
Acts 2:1-4

A Liturgy is also available


Today is Pentecost Sunday.
The day we see and hear about some of the great symbols of faith.
The day we all see red!

Traditionally Pentecost is about
being surprised, and
being fully enlivened by God’s spirit, as Jesus was.

And Pentecost is about hearing and experiencing
the presentness of God
in a language we can understand...

Not just in Australian or French or Korean or Danish,
but also in the language of
television commercials,
supermarket shopping
and school play yards.

But today I also want us to see some other colours… the colours red, yellow and black.
For recently we celebrated National Reconciliation Day
and the ‘hoped-for’ language of reconciliation
between indigenous and non-indigenous people of Australia.

So this morning I would like to weave a few thoughts around both these celebrations.


Our biblical storyteller from the early christian movements
- tradition has it, it is the one called Luke -
takes the Pentecost tradition he has received and,
with the skill of an artisan, reshapes it
so its abiding significance is there for all to see…

An overwhelming awareness of the presentness of the Spirit: joyous praise.

Likewise, in our own time, retired Uniting Church minister Bruce Prewer, in his poem/reflection,
City Pentecost’, does something similar.
"Through skyscraper canyons
you come, Holy Spirit,
down lanes and arcades
you come:

"From the north, from the south,
from within and without,
like wind
like wind
the roar of Pure Wind,
you come sweeping through
to renew.

"In houses of parliamentyou come, Holy Spirit,
into lawmakers’ chambers
you come.

"From above, from below,
from ally and foe,
as truth
as truth
the roar of Pure Truth
you come sweeping through
to renew.

"Through grand gothic arches
you come, Holy Spirit,
to choir and high altar
you come.

"From the west, from the east,
from the font and the feast,
like fire
like fire
the roar of Pure Fire
you come sweeping through
to renew...

"Pentecost is not a one-off experience.
It is for all time, and for all of us.


Not so straight forward is a second story about language - the story of the tower of Babel.
Scholars are divided over its significance.

• Some claim human pride and ambition built the tower,
only to see it collapse
and people come to be scattered,
no longer able to live together in harmony.

• While those shaped by Liberation Theology,
especially Third World and Indigenous Peoples,
suggest it is about freedom…
freedom to speak their own language
rather than the language of the dominant group.

Either way I hope my next story might help us hear the language of reconciliation.

Once upon a time,
all the colours in the world started to quarrel.

Each claimed that she was
the best, 
the most important,
the most useful,
the favourite.

Green said:
Clearly I am the most important.
I am the sign of life and hope.
I was chosen for grass, trees, leaves.
Without me all the animals would die.

Look out over the countryside and you will see
that I am in the majority.

Blue interrupted:
You only think about the earth,
but consider the sky and the sea.
It is water that is the basis of life
and this is drawn up by the clouds from the blue sea.
The sky gives space and peace and serenity.

Without my peace you would all be nothing but busybodies.

Yellow chuckled:
You are all so serious.
I bring laughter, gaiety and warmth into the world.
The sun is yellow,
the moon is yellow,
the stars are yellow.

Every time you look at a sunflower
the whole world starts to smile.
Without me there would be no fun.

Orange started next to blow her own trumpet:
I am the colour of health and strength.
I may be scarce, but I am precious
for I serve the inner needs of human life.

I carry all the most important vitamins.
Think of carrots and pumpkins,
oranges, mangoes and pawpaws.

I don't hang around all the time,
but when I fill the sky at sunrise or sunset,
my beauty is so striking that no one
gives another thought to any of you.

Red could stand it not longer. He shouted out:
I’m the ruler of you all, blood, life's blood.
I am the colour of danger and of bravery.
I am willing to fight for a cause.
I bring fire in the blood.

Without me the earth would be empty as the moon.
I am the colour of passion and of love,
the red rose, poinsettia and poppy.

Purple rose up to his full height.
He was very tall and spoke with great pomp:
I am the colour of royalty and power.

Kings, chiefs and bishops have always chosen me
for I am a sign of authority and wisdom.
People do not question me.
They listen and obey.

Indigo spoke much more quietly than all the others,
but just as determinedly:
Think of me. I am the colour of silence.
You hardly notice me,
but without me, 
you all become superficial.

I represent thought and reflection,
twilight and deep waters.
You need me for balance and contrast,
for prayer and inner peace.

And so the colours went on boasting,
each convinced that they were the best.
Their quarrelling became louder and louder.

Suddenly there was a startling flash of brilliant white lightning.
Thunder rolled and boomed.
Rain started to pour down relentlessly.

The colours all crouched down in fear,
drawing close to one another for comfort.

Then Rain spoke:
You foolish colours, fighting among yourselves,
each trying to dominate the rest.

Do you not know that the Holy One made you all?
Each for a special purpose, unique and different.
Each of you is loved.

Join hands with one another and come with me.
Let us be stretched across the sky in a great bow of colour,
as a reminder of that love for you all,
so you can appreciate each other and live together in peace. 
(Anne Hope/Adapted).


Pentecost and Reconciliation...
They call us to live a life of extravagant generosity
beyond ideas and images and behaviour
that lock us into
and a diminishing understanding of our true selves.