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A UNIVERSAL LANGUAGE

The Upper Room devotional reflection for Thursday, October 27, 2022, comes to us from Funmi Afolabi of Maryland.

1 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. 5 Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. 6 And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. 7 Amazed and astonished, they asked, "Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? 9 Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes,

11 Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God's deeds of power." 12 All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "What does this mean?" 13 But others sneered and said, "They are filled with new wine."

Acts 2:1-13NIV

 

A UNIVERSAL LANGUAGE


Hallelujah is a word used to express praise, joy, or thanks – especially to God. It is a word that doesn’t need translation. Christians the world over have taken it into their own languages to express joy and praise. I once attended a wedding in an Orthodox Ethiopian Church. The service was conducted in the Ethiopian language and was a beautiful celebration. However, all I could understand and respond to was “Hallelujah,” since I speak a different African language and English. So, when I heard the priest say, “Hallelujah,” and the congregation respond, I also responded with “Hallelujah!” It is exciting to realize that all God’s children are one big family, praising God in unity of spirit. Even though we may speak different languages, God is happy to receive our praises and joyful shouts of “Hallelujah!”

 

Friends,

Pentecost – the coming of the Holy Spirit – is a remarkable experience that many of us celebrate, but that we may not fully understand. Some have used Acts 2:1-13 to suggest the evidence of one possessing the Holy Spirit is speaking in tongues (an unrecognizable language). Yet, when we examine Acts 2:1-13 it leans more toward the disciples being empowered to speak in recognizable languages they had not learned and did not know.


I can imagine the bewilderment of those gathered in Jerusalem, hearing the disciples speaking of God’s power in their own language. To me, Pentecost signals us to contextualize the Gospel of Christ, to speak in the language (cultural context) of the people we are attempting to reach. The call to speak contextually requires us to study, honor, and appreciate the culture of those we seek to communicate with, less we fall into the trap of minimizing their culture; nullifying our ability to have an impact. I invite you to allow the Holy Spirit to empower you to share the love of Christ, with those who cross your path, in a manner that honors who they are.

--Pastor Anthony

 
Prayer:

We praise you, God, for your faithfulness to us. May we work to count all your children as our family. Hallelujah! Amen.

-- Funmi Afolabi


Prayer Focus:

Gratitude for my faith community.


Thought for the day:

“Hallelujah” is a word that unites us in praise to God.

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