May 25, 2023
I once was traveling alone in Italy to see family. I had some cousins who were living in the town of Perugia and I had not seen them in years. This was my first time in Europe and I was nervous about navigating the travel on my own. My cousins booked me a train ticket from Rome to Perugia for when I landed, but my flight was delayed from London to Rome. I missed the train.
I landed in Rome and felt stranded. I did not have an international plan for my cell phone and I was not even sure if it would work. In my mind, I had no way to contact my cousins and no Euros to use to buy a new train ticket. I felt abandoned and lost.
I looked around for any signs in English and did not see any. But there were signs with a picture of a train on them. I followed the signs until I found myself standing in front of a booth. In the booth was a middle-aged Italian woman. I am sure she saw the fear in my eyes as I approached her. I started stammering about missing my train and trying to get to Perugia. She listened politely and then, in perfect English, said, “Do not worry. I am going to help you.” With those nine English words, I felt myself suddenly relax and calm down. I knew that I was not alone. With the help of this woman, I made it safely to my cousins in Perugia.
This Sunday is Pentecost Sunday. It is the day we remember that the Holy Spirit descended upon the gathered apostles in Jerusalem. When we read the story in Acts 2, we learn that the Holy Spirit gives the disciples energy to preach to the city. Those gathered to listen to Peter’s sermon are a diverse mix. And yet, through the power of the Holy Spirit, everyone in that crowd heard Peter’s words in their own language.
The power of the Gospel is that it is not tied to one language. It is not tied to one person or peoples’ experience. It is a movement of the Holy Spirit that transcends all of the categories and barriers that we often use to divide up humanity. The Holy Spirit breaks through those walls and brings life, unity, hope, and grace to anyone and everyone. That is what we remember on Pentecost Sunday.
I hope you will join us for worship this Pentecost Sunday. We will gather to celebrate the work and power of the Spirit that is available to us. And we will remember that we are not abandoned or lost. We have the power and the presence of God’s Holy Spirit with us and within us.