Notice what happens at Pentecost. God, through the Spirit, chooses to meet us where we are: in the midst of a multitude of languages and experiences. The Spirit translates the gospel instantly into myriad languages. If you think this is easy, then you have never tried learning a new language! You don't just substitute one word in one language for a corresponding word in another language. Language is messy and intricate. Language is rooted in a wider and complex culture and way of thinking and living. Even when we speak the same language, don't we still have a hard time understanding one another? Imagine then the miracle of Pentecost and what it means for us today.
God meets us in the messiness of different languages and does not ask us to speak God's language. Instead, God chooses to speak our many languages. God does not speak in a divine language beyond our comprehension. At Pentecost, God speaks in Aramaic and Greek and other ancient languages. Today, God continues to speak in Spanish, Greek, Hindi, and Chinese alike.
At Pentecost, God makes God's choice clear. God joins us in the midst of the messiness and the difficulties of speaking different languages, eating different foods, and living in different cultures. That is good news indeed.
-Eric Barreto, "Thinking Differently about Difference," OnScripture.org
I generally want to avoid talking about political issues when I think about Ring Lake Ranch, but it's difficult right now to escape the anger, anxiety and frustration that so many feel this fall. Eric Barreto's retreat won't be explicitly political – and perhaps we can all offer a quiet "Thank you" for that – but after reading some of his writing and listening to his talks, I feel sure this will be a retreat powered by a beautiful, energetic optimism. Through our study with Eric on diversity in Luke/Acts, we will explore a remarkable vision of how things should be – and could be – in God's Realm. And sometimes, contemplating a vision of how things should be is even more important that talking about how things are.
Here is a great talk Eric gave on this theme at a recent ELCA Youth gathering:
You can find more of Eric's reflections on scripture and contemporary events at OnScripture.org: