Pentecost 2009 – Acts 2: 1-21/John 15: 26-27, 16:4b-15
The Reverend Kirk Alan Kubicek, Saint Peter’s at Ellicott Mills, Maryland
The Spirit of Truth
“How is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language.”
The Fourth Gospel as explicated by Archbishop William Temple in his Readings in John’s Gospel (McMillan and Co, London:1952) helps us to hear what is at stake in the story of Pentecost.
Our attention must be drawn to our Lord’s own description of the Spirit, the Holy Comforter, as the Spirit of Truth. Temple observes, “…one way of summarizing the purpose of Christ’s coming is to say that He came in order that the Spirit might come. That inward power of God converting desire itself is a result of the disclosure of the love of God and the response which it wins. So the Son is the cause of the Spirit’s coming; He sends Him. Yet, it is no less true that the Spirit proceedeth from the Father; because the Father is infinite love the personal activity of that love ever goes forth. Not only in Jesus Christ does the Spirit of Truth touch the hearts of men. He spoke to and through Plato, as the early Christian Fathers fully recognized; and has spoken through many a seer, poet and prophet both within and outside the Canon of Holy Scripture.” P.275
This makes me think that we often see the Pentecost event in far too literal a fashion. Hearing the The Spirit of Truth, each of us, “in our own native language” need not be restricted to Parthian, Egyptian, French, German, and all the languages we are tempted to have read on Pentecost morning.
Why can’t we find the Spirit of Truth in the language of poetry, prophecy, mysticism, as well as Philosophy, Science, Painting, Music and so on? Within each human language exist multiple languages, all seeking to help us hear more clearly what the Spirit of Truth sent by Jesus, proceeding from God the Father, means for us to hear.
Hear what people throughout time, from different cultures and different backgrounds have had to say about the life of the Spirit:
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!
Isaiah 6th Century BC Israel
The Master has no possessions.
The more he does for others, the happier he is.
The more he gives to others, the wealthier he is.
Lao Tzu 5th BC China
Turn your attention within, for the fountain of all that is good lies within,
And it is always ready to pour forth, if you continually delve in.
Marcus Aurelius 2nd Century Greece
Thank God! You hadn’t the means or you may have been a Pharaoh.
The prayer of Moses was, “Lord, I am in need of thee.”
The way of Moses is all hopelessness and need
And it is the only way to God.
Rumi 13th Century Persia
One may never have heard the Word “Christ,”
But be closer to God
Than a priest or nun.
Thomas Aquinas, 13th Century Italy
God and I have become like two giant fat people
Living in a tiny boat.
We keep bumping into each other
Hafiz 14th Century Persia
The earth looked at him and he began to dance.
Mira knows why, for her soul too is in love.
If you cannot picture God in a way that always strengthens you,
You need to read more of my Poems.
Mira 16th Century India
It’s the old shell trick with a twist:
I saw God put Himself in one of your pockets.
You are bound to find Him.
Tukaram 17th Century India
O, feed me this day, Holy Spirit, with
The fragrance of the fields and the
Freshness of the oceans which you have
Made, and help me to hear and to hold
In all dearness those exacting and wonderful
Words of our Lord Christ Jesus, saying,
Mary Oliver 21st Century America
The importance for us to listen to all these languages of humanity comes from the Why of the Spirit being sent to us: to bear witness to Jesus, so that we also may, indeed must, bear witness since we have been with Jesus “from the beginning.”
We are to be Co-Witnesses with the Holy Spirit – this is our calling! We are with Him from the beginning in our Baptism where we are incorporated into the Body of Christ. We become God’s Beloved as Jesus is God’s Beloved. We are called to testify!
Pentecost means we each must find our own voices, our own languages, with which to proclaim the goodness of the Lord, so that everyone may hear in their own native tongues the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Pentecost means hearing The Spirit of Truth in all its languages throughout all time so that all that we say and all that we do bears witness to the Truth and gives Glory to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.