Acts 2: 1 – 8 Communication Miracle Sunday May 31, 2020

Here is this week’s service:

And the words:

Communication Miracle

Acts 2: 1 – 8


(preached May 31, 2020)


Good communication is important.  Whether we’re communicating with friends, or at work, or just doing our shopping around town, it’s important to communicate well.  When good communication doesn’t happen, major mix ups can occur.  Sometimes that’s because we hear what we’re expecting to hear, instead of what the other person is actually saying.  That may have been the case for a man who pulled into a gas station one day, and stopped at the pump that offered full service. The attendant came out to his car with a smile.  But the attendant was concerned when he saw some very unusual passengers in the man’s  back seat.  He spoke to him with some alarm.


“Hey,” the attendant exclaimed, “There’s four penguins sitting on your back seat!”

“I know,” the driver replied.  “Cute little guys, aren’t they?”

“Well, sure,” the attendant said, “They’re cute, but you know you really ought to take those penguins to the zoo.”

“Yeah, I guess I should,” said the other man.  Then, after the attendant had filled up his tank, he drove away.

The next day the same attendant was astounded when he saw the man pull up to the pump again with the four penguins still sitting up in the back seat.  This time the birds were wearing sunglasses.

“What are you doing with those penguins still in your back seat?” the attendant wanted to know.  “I thought you were going to take them to the zoo.”

“I did,” the man replied.  “And they had such a good time that today I’m going to take them to the beach!”

Those men may have been talking to each other, but they weren’t really communicating.


Today we celebrate Pentecost, and a miracle of real communication.  On Pentecost, real, Spirit-driven communication ignites the spark that begins the Christian church.  In the book of Acts, we read that the disciples are all gathered in one place when the Holy Spirit comes upon them in the rush of a mighty wind, a wind that “[fills] the entire house where they [are] sitting.”  The Spirit billows in and gives them the ability to speak in different languages.


Pentecost is the birthday of the church: the beginning of a movement that would spread around the world, proclaiming the good news of God’s mighty acts in Jesus Christ.  Pentecost says that God wants to communicate with us, and God wants us to communicate with others.  The church begins with a small group of people, on fire with the message of God’s love let loose in the world, a message they had to share.  Before the New Testament was written down, before any pastors were ordained, or any churches built, or any hymnals printed, Christianity begins with the miracle of communication: a gift of the Holy Spirit.


The disciples were blessed with the gift of speech.  Sometimes it’s said that they were given the gift of tongues.  That would be miracle enough.  But the Holy Spirit doesn’t just work a miracle of tongues.  The Spirit also works a miracle of ears!    That day there were hundreds of people in Jerusalem, from “every nation under heaven.” When they heard the disciples speaking, they were able to understand.  They were astounded and asked one another, “Aren’t all these men Galileans?  How is it what we can hear each of us, in our own language?”


At Pentecost, in miracles of speaking and hearing, people from all over hear the story of Jesus, the story of God’s triumph over death.  It’s a story that speaks to all of us, beyond our differences.


Lutheran pastor Clayton J. Schmit describes it this way:

“God did, in this case, as God always does.  God goes the distance for people.  God did not require the people to hear in Greek or Aramaic.  God used the disciples to speak in their own languages.  Their [divisions were] overcome by heavenly initiative”  (Schmit, Pulpit Resource, vol. 43, no. 2, p. 47).


The breath of God’s Spirit works miracles of speech and hearing, so the good news of God’s death-defying love can be understood near and far.  Today the Spirit still brings understanding, even without spoken language.  A pastor recalls a day in a nursing home, where he was asked to visit with an elderly woman from Russia.  He says, “She spoke virtually no English.  I spoke absolutely no Russian.  I tried to indicate who I was.  I showed her my Bible and the kit I used to bring communion to the sick.“


“I was moderately successful in this.  She seemed to understand that I was a priest or some such thing.  She graciously put up with my babbling in English.  I could see by the warmth of her smile and the way she stroked my hand that she was grateful for my visit.


“Not much passed between us by way of shared information.  I could not let her know that I wished to hear her story and learn about her Orthodox faith.  But there was a moment of crystalline communication.  This occurred when we entered the communion liturgy.  Suddenly, all confusion and miscommunication fell away.  We both entered into the language of the church.  When we recited the Lord’s Prayer together, English and Russian blended in perfect unison.


“Then, we shared the body and blood of Christ.  No words were needed.  There was a 50-year difference between our ages.  During most of our lives, we would have been considered political enemies.  [But] neither age, nor language, nor ideology divided us in those moments when the Holy Spirit drew us together in communion with one another, and with Christ” (Schmit, Pulpit Resource, vol. 34, no 2, p. 48).


On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit billows in with a miracle of communication. As God always does, God goes the distance: enabling every person to speak and hear a language they can understand: in words and beyond words.  The Holy Spirit brings the gift of understanding, that the story of God’s death-defying love might be known to all the world.




Rev. Elva Merry Pawle

Pentecost Sunday


Here is the Piano music for this week:


And the lyrics:

“Breathe on me, Breath of God”

Tracey Craig McKibben

Breathe on me, Breath of God, fill me with life a new,

that I may love what  what thou dost love, and do what thou wouldst do.


Breath on me, Breath of God, until my heart is pure,

until with thee I will one will to do and to endure.


Breathe on me, Breath of God, till I am wholly thine,

until this earthly part of me glows with thy fire divine.


Breathe on me, Breath of God, so shall I never die,

but live with thee the perfect life of thine eternity.


Here is the organ music:

And the lyrics:



“Jesus, Lover of My Soul”

By Hal Hopson

Jesus, lover of my soul, let me to thy bosom fly,

while the nearer waters roll, while the tempest still is high;

hide me, O my Savior, hide, till the storm of life is past;

safe into the haven guide, O receive my soul at last!


Other refuge have I none; hangs my helpless soul on thee;

leave, ah! leave me not alone, still support and comfort me.

All my trust on thee is stayed, all my help from thee I bring;

cover my defenseless head with the shadow of the wing.


Plenteous grace with thee is found, grace to cover all my sin;

let  the healing streams abound, make and keep me pure within,

Thou of life the fountain art, freely let me take of thee;

spring thou up within my heart, rise to all eternity.



“God of Grace and God of Glory”


God of grace and God of glory, on thy people pour thy power;

crown thine ancient church’s story; bring its bud to glorious flower.

Grant us wisdom, grant us courage, for the facing of this hour.


Cure thy children’s warring madness; bend our pride to thy control;

shame our wanton, selfish gladness, rich in things and poor in soul.

Grant us wisdom, grant us courage, for the facing of this hour.