You know how it is.
You walk down Chapel Road, and it’s full of teenagers speaking random languages.
Sometimes you can walk along the Front, and half the world seems to be speaking another language.
Now, if you’re lucky, school French or Spanish comes to the rescue if you want to try understanding some of it. Or maybe you are French, and it’s nice to hear your language spoken around Worthing.
We’ve just had Whitsun weekend, as many still call it, or Pentecost. It’s the anniversary (2000-odd years) of the time the church remembers the Holy Spirit coming to the disciples.
And the result was a lot more dramatic than the French and Italian students in Worthing.
All of a sudden, right in Jerusalem, a noise begins in an upstairs room. There’s no glass in the windows – everyone can hear the sudden burst of excitement from what sounds like a whole lot of people.
And then, just as everyone’s stopping and staring up at the window, loads of people come spilling out onto the street, and, yes, they’re all speaking different languages!
At this festival time (“Pentecost”) Jerusalem was as packed with tourists and foreigners as Brighton on a hot Sunday in June. Other languages were not a surprise. What was a surprise was the people who were speaking them. They were mostly country yokels from “up North”! Where on earth did they learn it all?
And what on earth was it all about?
This was the birth of the Church. Not St Mungo’s, or New Street Baptist – but The Church. The whole thing. Christian faith. The result of the life and death and rising of Jesus of Nazareth, and his return to heaven (which we call the Ascension).
And the Church was going to be for everyone: not just for Jews, nor just for Palestinians and Syrians and Egyptians and others in that part of the world – everyone. And not just then – but now. So it includes you and me.
The different languages they were speaking (it’s sometimes called “speaking in tongues”) were a sign from God. He’d been showing himself to the whole world through giving his Son Jesus. And now he’s saying that all that was for people of all lands and all times.
For you and me.
By Mary Parish