So....the Euro...how is that working out?
Without question, we are so far from being political or economic experts; however, that did not stop us from warily wondering about unifying the currency of so many diverse countries and cultures.
Even if it was a good financial decision (which is still in question), think about the cultural images that were lost when Italy's wide denomination structure was traded in for a Unified Euro.
It seems the question in play in this week's lectionary readings is around sharing a common language. Is it positive or negative to have everyone sharing a common language and unified culture?
In the story we find in Genesis, it appears everyone shared a common language. Today, that seems like it would be wonderful....communication would only be limited by the individual's ability and command of the language. However, it also appears these folks knew that there was something maybe too powerful about communication without limits. They want to "make a name" for themselves so they will not be broken up and scattered upon the face of the whole earth. And then God sees what these mortals of a common language are devising to do and God says (to someone else on the Godly Plane) "Let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand one another's speech". This is a strange story to us, but there seems to be something important here about the power that is possible with a common language and the responsibility that must be taken seriously.
The psalmist is praising God's power, acknowledging with wonder God's mighty acts of creation in the world. Taken as commentary on the breadth of the other readings, it reinforces the power of God's creation of difference - of uniqueness - that no two trees, bodies, mountains, stars, clouds, etc. are alike. And all created.
In the passage we have from the gospel of John we see another important example of communication. And this is something that is a little difficult for empowered libertarian American protestant fingers to type. This passage is a Trinitarian Brain Teaser. We see Jesus explaining to folks that if you ask for something in the name of Jesus, he will do it so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. And then Jesus will ask the Father to send an Advocate who will be invisible and will abide with you and be in you. The Advocate will be sent by the Father in the name of Jesus to teach you and remind you of everything Jesus has said to you. As tough as this is to understand, what we do see clearly is that someone is in charge and it is not us. Jesus is not fully in charge of communicating with us. The Father is not fully in charge of communicating with us. The Advocate is not fully in charge of communicating with us. Of course, together, they communicate with us. And through a variety of ways, we communicate with them. And by our own experience, the language of approach with these parts of the Trinity is unique, too.
Many folks believe the Pentecost story as told in Acts is an obvious sister story to the Tower of Babel story in Genesis. You know, the Tower of Babel shows the Mean Old Old Testament God scattering the people and the Peace Loving Sandal Wearing New Testament Jesus bringing the people together. And certainly, that can be a fair reading. However, again, let's think about the power that is being tossed around in this situation. The folks on whom the Spirit rested did not all begin to speak a central, unified language that everyone could understand. The text says, "all of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability." In this situation, all of the cultures and languages and peoples were respected and held up and spoken to in a way that each one could understand. As these Galilean followers of Jesus were speaking about God's deeds of power, there was not an attempt to unify them in to one group so that they might combine their power; they were testifying to the power of God to each in his or her own language.
Is it possible to embrace the unique parts of creation fully and to live in a peaceful society? How can we honor and respect all of the individuals regardless of culture, education, race, gender, and age? Are there ways that we can all come together and share a common Love and Peace without forcing everyone to be the same and speak a common language? Maybe that is the fulfillment of the Kingdom...
Spirit of Life
Help us find joy
for the diversity
of Your creation
of which we are
one very small part.
© matt & laura norvell 2010 www.settingourstones.org
we want to share this with you and hope you'll share with the world;
we simply ask that you let people know where you found these words.
May Grace & Peace be with you.