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Mont St Michel

When the day of Pentecost had come, [the apostles] were all together in one place. 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…All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. 6And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each.  (Acts 2:1-2, 4-5)

Kevin and I recently returned from our trip to France to visit our daughter Jane. We spent several days in Paris before taking the train to Rennes, where Jane lives. Nearly everywhere we went it seemed there were eager tourists from every nation under heaven visiting the same sites. Standing in line to clear customs at the airport or waiting to enter an attraction, we could hear snippets of conversation in many languages, some of which we could identify even when we could not understand what was being said, others of which we could only guess at. In large art museums we observed swarms of tour groups, each outfitted with earphones tuned to tour guides narrating the exhibits in the native languages of their particular groups. In enclosed spaces, all this talking contributed to a gentle hum filling the space—not unpleasantly; after all, we were enjoying the same marvelous artwork. What surprised me was how clearly my ears could pick out a single American accent even in a very crowded room. Our daughter, the linguist, could probably explain why this was so. I’m guessing the familiar inflections, cadences, and patterns of sounds helped those American dialects break through the buzz of everyone else’s words.

Maybe this is how the writer of Luke and Acts imagined that first post-Easter Pentecost, when people from every nation were able to hear and understand God’s new story in their diverse native languages.    

That story makes me wonder how God speaks to us, even now, and how (or whether?) we hear God’s message. In the cacophony of our modern world, we are often surrounded by noise, much of it unhelpful, urging us to hurry up, watch out for ourselves, fear everyone else, and give up hope of anything ever being better. I think God speaks in a different dialect, urging us to be present in each moment, attuned to the possibilities that exist when we notice what is happening right around us, aware of the power of love and compassion to make a difference. That’s the language I’m trying to master.

Wherever our travels or daily activities take us, may we all be blessed with keen understanding, able to hear when God speaks, no matter how loud the rest of the world.

To Love, To Invite, To Serve,

Pastor Sue


The accompanying photo shows Mont St. Michel, offshore between Brittany and Normandy in the northwest part of France. It was once one of Europe’s primary Christian pilgrimage destinations. Now it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site, welcoming tourists from all over the world, speaking a multitude of languages.


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