Pentecost - Year A
Amazing how surprised we can get as we gather for one purpose and a Python comes out of the sea to collapsingly announce, “It’s” time for something completely different. Why were the disciples gathered? Not just to huddle together, but to honor the tradition of Pentecost, otherwise known as Shavu’ot (rejoicing not just in Passover/Exodus from Egypt, but the giving of Torah - not simply the narrow Books of Moses, but the entire body of Jewish teaching - that organizes a new community). Judaism 101 says: “It is noteworthy that the holiday is called the time of the giving of the Torah, rather than the time of the receiving of the Torah. The sages point out that we are constantly in the process of receiving the Torah, that we receive it every day, but it was first given at this time. Thus it is the giving, not the receiving, that makes this holiday significant.”
Gathered for honoring the giving of Torah (translating G*D-speak to human community organizing) there is a surprise that the theory of constantly receiving a given Torah involves such as ourselves. On this day of translation another giving begins to be received. A gift of languages (translating human experience to human experience) sets folks on growing another branch of a beautiful tree meant for the healing of the nations.
To hear Torah and more than Torah in one’s own language is a soul-stirring moment. It brings out the best in us to hear G*D’s mighty works of power - forgiveness, mercy, steadfast love. These contine to break new territory, to not be bound by the usual limits that separate us.
To hear Torah and more than Torah in one’s own language, can also scare the bejezus out of us and set up resistance to such weak elements when we have staked our lives on our own power, privilege, entitlement.
Between growing Torah and limiting it, we find the responses to this roomful of yeasty people who throw open closed doors to turn strangers into friends by giving themselves away - not insisting others learn their language, but starting with the language of the other.
Question: Is the given gift of Pentecost received into your life everyday? Which strange Neighbor or literal Enemy have you spoken with in their language that they may hear the power of forgiveness, mercy, steadfast love? It may draw you closer together or it may cause a greater rift. These outcomes, however, are not at issue. Our only question is whether we will receive and act on a waiting new gift or be satisfied with the old ones.
Pentecost/Shavu’ot, calls us to receive something already given - a latent translation, experience to experience, of a larger vision than simply repeating today, that everyone, everyone, will be whole and whole, again.