On Sunday, May 23, we will celebrate the birthday of the Church! It takes place fifty days following the Day of Resurrection when the Holy Spirit filled the room like a mighty, rushing wind. People from all over the world were drawn together, bound to one another by the grace of God. Pentecost tells the story of the width of Christ’s love and the depth of God’s grace.
Many of us have attended dinners, which sample cuisine from around the globe. Our Conversational English class has often times invited all of the participants to bring samples of food from their countries, allowing everyone to enjoy them.
Stephanie Paulsell, who teaches at Harvard Divinity School, recalls her daughter studying abroad with other students from different countries. Everyone prepared a meal with food from their countries. Her daughter said, “I want my life to be full of meals like these.”
The connections we make with others, despite our differences, are quite meaningful! They remind us of what matters the most. We discover the image of God in others, and in ourselves.
When we are learning a different language, we discover the bridges we need to build in order to communicate with others. Paulsell’s daughter, who was teaching her some Italian, said, “You’ve got to let go of English. You’ve got to learn to hear in Italian as well. It’s not just English expressed another way. You’ve got to think differently.”
Pentecost teaches us to think differently! We begin to think of the Church as a global community. We begin to see each other, and people around the world, as our brothers and sisters. It alters our view of the Church and our lives, navigating this world and addressing its needs with more grace and goodness.
As we light the candles on the Church’s birthday cake, let us hope to see again the global reach of the body of Christ.