What is Pentecost? In Acts 2:1-21, we are told that the disciples received the Holy Spirit after Jesus returned to his Father in heaven. Jesus had promised them that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them, to equip them to be Jesus’ witnesses in Jerusalem and beyond – to all nations, in fact. What we celebrate on the Sunday of Pentecost is the day when the Holy Spirit came to the disciples. After they received the Holy Spirit, the disciples went out and began to preach the gospel. The amazing thing was, however, that they could suddenly speak many different languages and people from different countries and regions were able to understand what the disciples were teaching.
Something that I have always wondered about, after hearing that passage from scripture, is what it must have sounded like on the streets of Jerusalem in those days, so long ago. Luke, the author of the Acts of the Apostles, tells us that the languages that the disciples were speaking to teach people about Jesus were the languages of peoples from many different nations. It must have sounded very much like what we hear on the streets of Brampton or Toronto or many other communities in the Toronto area. Indeed, in the early years of my moving to the Toronto area from Montreal, it took some getting used to that, at the time, most people in the stores, on the street, in libraries, customer service people, and so on, spoke primarily English. I had grown up and lived for many years in a city where it was simply the norm to always hear two languages: English and French. Now, however, in the Greater Toronto Area, we have grown accustomed to hearing the languages of the world spoken all around us.
Let us pray that the Holy Spirit will create the same understanding, appreciation and community in our own cities as she did all those centuries ago in Jerusalem.