As I scroll through social media, I find myself always stopping to watch recipe videos and then jotting down some notes to remember the ingredients so I can try the recipe later. Except, what seem to be easy recipes never quite turn out like they do on those videos. Maybe that’s just me. My family has come to know to brace themselves when I say I am trying something new. In cooking, you quickly learn the lesson that every ingredient matters.
In the book of Corinthians, the Apostle Paul writes that there are a variety of gifts, but the same Spirit. For Paul, every unique gift, like ingredients in a recipe, matters to make up the whole. It seems the lesson we learn from this, and similar texts, is to place greater value on the result; the unity, the oneness, and the sameness. And yet, quite the opposite is true as Paul names the various gifts of the Spirit; wisdom, faith, healing, prophecy, and more. There is emphasis on the uniqueness of each in the community and that we are better together.
This Sunday is Pentecost. From the book of Acts, we hear how the Spirit moves from the group of disciples into the wider community. They were all together in one room when suddenly the Holy Spirit shows up and, before you know it, they’re in the middle of a crowd of Jews from every nation speaking in the native language of each. Now let’s be clear, it’s not that the disciples were suddenly speaking some universal language that everyone could miraculously understand. They were all speaking different languages, an emphasis on how diverse the group gathered were, and how God’s message was being shared with the people in their unique language that they needed to hear.
It reminds me of my first time overseas with my husband Tom. We were on a train in the heart of Italy, trying to figure out our next stop. Most passengers on the train spoke Italian or a language other than English. Suddenly, I heard English being spoken from the front of the car. My ears quickly honed in on their voices. It was a small group of Canadian Hockey players. It was a relief for me to hear English for a moment, a taste of home, and I immediately went over and talked with them. I can imagine it might have felt like that for the crowds who were gathered outside of the upper room where there were many different languages and backgrounds, and suddenly they each heard their own.
God’s Spirit is always working to gather us together at the table, to help us to feel at home. The Spirit doesn’t change us into being the same carbon copy of each other. The Spirit uses the different gifts and diversity among us to enhance our life together and bring us together, because we are better together. Amen.