On the Day of Pentecost, a Spirit-filled group of the disciples of Jesus were driven into the street to speak words that testified to Christ. When they opened their mouths, the languages of many nations became audible. Each heard their native tongue. It was not that none of them could communicate before. They all spoke Greek, maybe Latin and certainly Hebrew. Yet, God’s voice came to them in the wonderful diversity in which God had made them. More important was what the Spirit’s language was about: it was about the love, mercy and grace of God. That is the language of the Spirit. In our age, language divides and spreads hate; language puts a price on everything and judges. The Spirit sends us into the street to speak a language that testifies to Jesus.
In today’s lesson from Acts, the Holy Spirit interrupts Peter’s sermon by filling the uncircumcised gentiles with gifts of the Spirit. Last week, as Philip brought good news to Samaria, the Spirit interrupted, sending him to proclaim the gospel to an Ethiopian eunuch. While we often think we are in control of the mission of the Church and over who is included in our efforts, the Spirit – Deus Interruptus (the Interrupting God) – is out ahead of us building the reign of God before we ever show up. Welcoming people we exclude, forgiving the unforgivable, are all the work of the Spirit without us. The question is, “Will we be left behind or catch up to what the Spirit is already doing?” Praise Deus Interruptus!
Ever want to have God appear to you in your own, personal, burning bush? Usually, when we talk about “religious experience,” we think about flash shows of divine presence like fiery chariots from heaven, ala Elijah’s assent to heaven (2 Kings 2). We at least think of glorious songs and inspirational worship. At first flush, it seems like the story of the Transfiguration, with Jesus shining presence and a voice from heaven seems to advocate for this kind of religious experience as a part of our faith. Before the story, however, Jesus speaks of the cross. After the bright lights, the disciples are left with Jesus – just Jesus. Maybe that is a clue to a different way that God is revealed to us in the wake of the incarnation of God in Christ.
The Lord was Baptized, not to be cleansed Himself, but to cleanse the waters, so that those waters, cleansed by the flesh of Christ which knew no sin, might have the power of Baptism. – Ambrose of Milan