for Sunday, June 8, 2014
Day of Pentecost
lectionary focus: Acts 2:1-21
note: You can certainly adjust this sermon to fit a mission trip your congregation knows; to create a size comparison between the mission area and your local area, check here for country size and here for US state size.
Recently my daughter Cherry went on a medical mission trip to Uganda. Uganda is a country on the continent of Africa. Uganda is about the size of Alabama and most of Mississippi together…so it is a tiny country. Yet Uganda has five times the number of people as we do in the same space! So, Uganda is a tiny country with lots of people! It took Cherry 15 hours by airplane and 6 hours by bus to get where they were going. Some people in Uganda speak English, by many people don’t. The official language is Swahili, but most people don’t speak that either. In fact, in this small area there are forty different languages spoken! That means that talking can be difficult! My daughter’s group had several translators with them. Each translator knew several languages, but each one did not know all forty languages. Sometimes her usual translator would say…I don’t know that language, I’ll go get one of the other translators. Understanding people’s stories took time, but they found a way. Cherry said the communications were another amazing aspect of the trip.
Today on the church calendar is called Pentecost. We get this name from another language, the Greek language: pentecost means fiftieth. We call today Pentecost because it has been fifty days since Easter. Pentecost sounds much prettier and fancier than saying Holy Fiftieth Day! In our Bible story today, we hear how on this fiftieth day, the disciples received the Holy Spirit. The disciples were all together when a great force came over them. And then each was able to share God’s love in one of the many languages of the people in the community. The disciples were speaking in the languages of the Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs! With the Holy Spirit, the disciples were able to speak about God’s great deeds in many different languages!
Nowadays we think there are almost 7000 different languages in the whole world. Sharing information and stories can be difficult with so many languages, but our Bible story today tells us that we should not let differences in language prevent us from sharing God’s love with each other. Everyone is invited to be part of God’s family. All are welcome. Or we could say Bienvenidos! Or Willkommen! Or Merhba! Or as they say in the Rutooro language in Uganda: Oraire ota! (oh-rah-EE-ray OH-tah) Give that one a try; say after me: Oraire ota! (Oraire ota!) Welcome! Welcome! We are all welcome to God’s love.
The church is a community of people. Not just the people here, but people everywhere. God calls us and equips us through the Holy Spirit to share with others and build God’s church around the world.
Will you pray with me? (This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the children repeat it.)
The world is full of Your people.
for helping us
find ways to share
near and far
with each and all.
We are not Christians alone.
My mission is to share, inspire, and encourage.