The day of Pentecost, fifty days after Easter, celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the church. I wanted to get in early with this because I have some suggestions on things to do at the end that you might like to think about as some of them need some preparation.
As the Holy Spirit fell on the disciples the barriers of language and culture were broken down. This festival draws us beyond the resurrection to remind us that through the coming of the Holy Spirit we become part of a transnational community from every nation, culture and social strata. At Pentecost we are reminded that this kingdom of God community is one in which, in spite of our cultural differences through the power of the Spirit, ours eyes are opened so that we can appreciate and understand each other. This community embraces rich and poor, male and female, slave and free. This kingdom of God community is a place in which we treat each other as equals, with mutual love, care and respect.
Pentecost also reminds us that the coming of the Spirit of God unites us as a single family with the poor, the homeless, the disabled, the oppressed & the abandoned. This is a time when traditionally churches prayed for peace between nations. It is also a time when we encourage each other to be reconciled with those we have been separated from because of lack of cultural understanding.
1. During the season of Pentecost find out about how different people experience God. Visit some churches of different traditions and of different ethnic backgrounds. Afterwards have lunch at ethnic restaurants that you don’t normally frequent.
2. Ride the bus to work and try to talk with fellow passengers from other ethnic backgrounds and religions.
3. Get together for an international feast. Ask each person to bring a dish from another culture as well as a prayer or a hymn from that culture. Start the evening with a time of storytelling about your experiences either in another culture or as a result of working with people in other cultures then
Whichever of these activities you engage in take some time afterwards to reflect on the following questions:
· In what ways do you help to break down barriers & foster understanding between people of different cultures?
· In what ways do you discriminate against others who are part of God’s international community
· Because of race, class, gender or colour?
· Because of culture, disabilities or body type?
· Because of intellect or educational differences?
· This season calls us to identify with those who are less fortunate than we are & to be willing to sacrifice our own comfort in order to attend to their needs. Ask yourselves: What does it mean for us to be drawn into community with the poor & the abandoned in our society?