–Marcus Borg, Pentecost and Babel/Babble
This coming Sunday is Pentecost, an important, powerful, and somewhat mysterious celebration in the church. It is the time when we remember and rejoice in the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the people of God in new and profound ways. It is the time when we hear once again the story of tongues of fire, a rushing wind, and diverse voices speaking as one. It might be said more precisely that it isn’t so much a celebration in the church, but of the church.
Theologian and author Marcus Borg helps us to work through some of the mystery, to bring into focus just what God is doing at Pentecost with his reminder of the story of Babel. The people of the earth sought to build a tower that would reach the heavens, and thus were scattered by God and given different tongues. Now God is breaking down those barriers, reminding us that we are all God’s children, creating a new way of being in Christ.
Times such as the current pandemic offer us the possibility to remember and rejoice that we, all of humanity, are one people in God. Moments such as this challenge us to embrace the full humanity of all God’s people, challenge us to reconsider our economic systems, our distribution of resources, our core values and institutions. The COVID-19 virus is not selective, yet survival rates are lower for people of color, the poor, the homeless. Clearly walls still exist between us.
Walls do not exist in the Kingdom of God that Jesus proclaims. When we build walls, when we separate people based on race, culture, nationality, language, class, gender, when we allow resources to be scarce for some because of the greed of others, we’re counter to the Kingdom. The proclamation of Pentecost, however, is clear – all people are God’s, all people are one, in Christ Jesus. This is the new age, and it is at hand. This is the new age, with no more walls.
Peace for the Journey,