[Reflections on the Lectionary Reading for June 5, 2011]
On the Day of Pentecost following Jesus’ ascension to heaven, Christians were filled with the Holy Spirit and they began speaking in tongues. This means that they began speaking in languages that they didn’t know. According the Book of Acts, the people who witnessed this miracle had mixed reactions. Some were “amazed and astonished” (Acts 2:7, NRSV); others “sneered” (Acts 2:13, NRSV) and accused them of being drunk.
I can understand the reaction of those who sneered. I am reluctant to believe in something that I have never heard of before. I tend to be skeptical about things that have no precedent. I don’t tend to believe that something new and miraculous is going on around me.
Throughout human history, God has periodically intervened with acts that only God could perform. These events have served to testify to God’s existence and power. However, each of us have an out. Each of us have the choice to deny such things. Each of us can preserve our cherished understanding of how the world works even in the face of miracles. We can find explanations for miracles that ignore and disrespect our Creator.