And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. - Acts 2 (King James Version)

When I read about Pentecost, these are the things that stand out: the sound as of a mighty wind, tongues like fire, people speaking in other tongues. Not people speaking in tongues, the unintelligible language of angels (or not), but speaking in other tongues - tongues of every nation under Heaven. A mighty wind and tongues of fire are pretty dramatic, but I like the idea that everyone was speaking in languages so that all who were present could understand. The Egyptians and Romans, the Greeks and Arabs, "all of us hear them telling in our own tongues the great things God has done" (Acts 2:11)

This is different from the story in Genesis about the people who wanted to build a tower up to Heaven. God was not happy and said: "Here they are, one people with a single language, and now they have started to do this: from now on, nothing they have a mind to do will be beyond their reach." So God confused their language so that they could not understand each other and "scattered the people over the face of the earth".

But then, on that Pentecost celebration, everyone was hearing the same story - that's powerful! Why did that happen? What had changed? There are many directions in which your thoughts could travel, especially if you are of a missionary mindset, but what it makes me think about is how important it is for all the nations of the world and all the peoples of the world, to communicate with each other and to understand each other.

At Plymouth Library we have books about many countries and all of the continents of the world. In reading about other countries and cultures, in traveling either by ship or airplane or armchair, maybe we can grow closer to understanding our global neighbors.