|Dear Gulf Coast Leaders,
Prayer List – Please add these to your Sunday prayers.
Lectionary – A summary of the upcoming lessons.
We began the Fall Leadership Gatherings last year to equip congregations by equipping congregational leaders. We began them to strengthen our capacity to do ministry together. We gathered with rostered leaders on Friday because the only time we have to meet together as rostered leaders in this synod is for an hour or so at the Theological Conference. We included lay leaders on Saturday because we wanted an opportunity to gather presidents, treasurers, evangelists, social ministry people and so forth to sharpen our saws. The only time we gather with lay leaders is synod assembly. We would do workshops on evangelism at assembly, but we had the wrong people. The evangelism team rarely goes to synod assembly. This event is an opportunity for rostered leaders to be together, with the bishop and staff. It’s an opportunity for your lay leaders to meet with other lay leaders doing the same things, and get some tools. I hope you’ll pick one, and give this gift to yourself and your lay leaders:
- August 13-14 at St. Paul’s in Brenham
- August 27-28 at Christ the King in Kenner
- September 10-11 at Zion in Houston
In 1951, when the linguist Richard Pittman produced a mimeographed list of the known languages of the world, his "ethnologue" he called it, it listed 46 known languages. That was 1951. Today’s massive 15th edition of the "Ethnologue" documents 7, 299 known languages. Including 104 languages that were unknown in the last edition. It also lists 497 languages that are endangered, because they are spoken by less than 50 people.
On the day of Pentecost Luke tells us that there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven present in Jerusalem. Jews from all over the known world made the pilgrimage to Jerusalem to celebrate what was known as the Festival of the Harvest or the Festival of Weeks.
After the resurrection Jesus told his disciples to remain in Jerusalem, where they would be "clothed with power from on high." They needed this power because they were going to be his witnesses, he said, "In Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. The power of the Spirit is given for mission, global mission in particular, so something of a multicultural, multilingual nature would have to take place. Pentecost becomes an explosive event that sends the gospel into the world across cultural and socioeconomic lines.
This speaking in tongues is not like the speaking in tongues that Paul mentions. Paul’s experience is such that he finally has to demand that interpreters be used, because no one understands,, even though they’re from the same place, and this is bad for mission. Luke’s description of Pentecost is different because just the opposite happens: everyone understands, even though they are all from different places. On Pentecost each one heard them declaring the wonders of God in their own language. Luke specifies 15 ethno-linguistic groups present. The Spirit brings unity in the midst of diversity. Babel is reversed.
Luke sees this as a fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy: the Spirit will be poured out on all flesh. Historically it was believed that only leaders were anointed with the power of God’s Spirit. David is anointed with God’s Spirit and he becomes king of Israel. Isaiah is anointed with God’s Spirit and he becomes a prophet. Great leaders have an extra measure of God’s Spirit. If you want to encounter God, you do so through one of them.
But in the last days God says through the prophet Joel, "I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh. Young men and young women will see visions and prophecy. Old men shall dream dreams. Even on slaves, both male and female, I will pour out my Spirit.
Of course the idea that God would anoint women and slaves (lowest on the socio-economic ladder) equally was patently absurd in ancient world (and for some today). God would have to do an utterly new thing. The windows were open and new, fresh winds of the Spirit were blowing.
I’d like to tease out with a congregation: "What new thing is God doing in your life?"