The celebration of Pentecost may have come and gone, but its meaning and influence remain. This song comes from that Sunday’s worship at Faith Lutheran Church in Glen Ellyn, IL, whose spoken, written, musical and visual Pentecost languages revolved around the following evocative possibility.
What do we usually sing about at Pentecost? How the Holy Spirit worked mightily on the hearts of devout pilgrims/merchants in Jerusalem. How the Spirit continues to form the Church today. But something more may be peeking out from the day’s texts, inviting us to think of those moments also as The Day of the Great Translation. You probably know those Scriptures well enough to imagine some of the reasons for renaming the day. Some beginning thoughts….
Looking closely at what was going on, you can see that the Spirit was working in the middle of this religious/mercantile festival’s discord and confusion. A crowd that big and that diverse would not necessarily have been of one mind. But that difficult context seems to have been a pre-condition for the inspiration and motivation that would follow…from the Spirit’s translation!
The word’s original meaning—based on the Latin transferre (to bear across, carry over or copy)—implies an observable action. Translations are tangible; they can be seen and heard. Gaps between people are bridged, what’s stuck in one place gets moved and meaning grows as it’s duplicated.
In this case, Holy Spirit was the translator—from Aramaic/Greek/Hebrew (?) into any number of languages or dialects suddenly familiar to a disparate crowd wondering what was going on. Because of that carrying over, the disciples’ words unified over 3000 of their hearers into seeking Baptism—and what lay beyond.
This insight can apply to us here-and-now. Because the Spirit still translates today, we are also translators! In our conversations and heartfelt testimonies, we span the rifts that characterize our times. We speak and emulate the language of Jesus love, carrying those words into the minds of people who hope for new meaning and purpose. Even new unity!
Something to sing about…!
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