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May 28, 2023

The Beauty of the Spirit is Diversity in Unity

Pastor KJ Kim

Acts 2: 1-21; 10: 44-48

In today’s passage, we meet the Holy Spirit, who still energizes creation and the church—breathing in and out, in and out, day and night, summer and winter, from Jesus’s last breath on the cross until today. That same Holy Spirit blowing across oceans and continents brought Jews and Gentiles together, still demanding us to override all kinds of differences. The birth story of the church is the story of insiders finding compelling ways to welcome outsiders and discerning that the Spirit overrides the differences, making outsiders into insiders who are all baptized together in the same name, Jesus Christ.

Well, think of modern US history. The church has struggled with letting African-Americans into the church after we finished with slavery, but it has done so. The church has quarreled about the ordination of women but has done so. All-together, black and white, men and women, rich and poor, all baptized in the Holy Spirit.

In today’s passage, the book of Acts, the holy event associated with the foundation of the church did not take place in a church. It happened when God’s people were all together in the one place. And when people were filled with the Spirit, they began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them to speak.

The disciples, who were all together in one place, would not have understood the languages they were speaking, reminding us that we do not need to know what’s going on or do not need to understand everything fully before we go out into the community. The disciples allowed themselves to be overwhelmed by the Spirit, which led to amazing things happening.

Even though the disciples cannot fully understand other languages, everyone there can hear the “great things God had done” in their own language. What is clear is that the Spirit was ensuring that no one was left out.

If we were to step back from a place of saying we understand everything and show our vulnerability, we could be more relatable to our communities and have more profound and more engaging, and authentic conversations beyond a language. Yes, it is okay to have only some of the answers. However, we should open ourselves to embrace a moment to bump into the Spirit even if when we do not understand or know what it would look like.

Like the disciples, we all are here, gathering in one place and waiting for the Spirit that stirs us again—young and old; rich and poor; insider and outsider; women and men; and American and Korean—to have dreams and visions. We do not talk about daydreaming or random flights of fancy
about what it would be nice to do or to have. Instead, we need a bold dream of new worshipping communities where all people—are welcomed, served, and cared for—even though we have differences because of the Christ and the Spirit, who still overturns the established order in our own lives, in our church, in our country.

Thanks be to God.

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