Dear Friends,

Can you tell of a mighty work of God? Congratulations! You have received the Spirit of Pentecost.

On the first Pentecost, God did many mighty works—some unique (almost) to that one day; others we can experience every day. Among the works unique (almost) to that day we can note: a sound like a mighty wind, tongues of fire, and the speaking in other languages. Among the works we can experience every day we can include: being filled with the Holy Spirit, telling the mighty works of God, and receiving a joy that tastes like new wine. (Acts 2:1-13)

When it comes to the unique (almost) mighty works of the first Pentecost, I add “almost” because on rare occasions, God does work in ways similar to those extraordinary events. For example, on certain occasions people have spoken or prayed in actual languages they have not learned. We call this gift “xenolalia,” which we can distinguish from “glossolalia.” When people receive the gift of xenolalia, they speak a language they have not learned in a way that speakers of the language can understand. That may be what happened on the first Pentecost. People from many different countries testified, “we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” (Acts 2:11) When people receive the gift of glossolalia, they utter sounds that resemble language but do not express any true language. Such private prayer “languages” can open hearts to immense comfort from God; and sometimes they can testify communally to the presence of God, but they cannot narrate to others the actions of God.

When it comes to works of Pentecost that we can experience every day, I can testify to a joy that tastes like new wine. To give just one example: thirty years ago, I attended a Maundy Thursday service at an African Methodist Episcopal Church in Durham, North Carolina, and there I saw embodied God’s new humanity as described in Galatians 3:28. A group of Gentiles united in the name of our Jewish Lord Jesus. The descendants of slaves hosted a meal that included the descendants of slave owners. Women and men led worship and served together. The service did not receive any press coverage. It did continue the story of Jesus’ work going back to the first Pentecost and the Acts of the Apostles.

At this moment in the history of the human family, we have many injustices to lament and many differences to debate. At the same time, we can experience the Holy Spirit blowing like the wind, setting hearts on fire, and overcoming boundaries with love. And we can join the Psalmist in praying: “O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.” (Psalm 51:15) Perhaps letting the Lord open our lips in praise will bring some healing into your heart and to the hurting human family. Certainly, coming together to tell the mighty works of God will open our world to the joy of the Holy Spirit. I pray a Spirit-filled Pentecost for you.