Thought For Today: Acts 2:8
“How is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language?” Acts 2: 8
The soon-to-be Archbishop of York has recently published a new book. As it is required reading for those who, like me, are involved in the discernment of God’s call to people to serve as ordained ministers in his church, I got hold of a copy. But, that apart, I would have done so anyway as I find his style immensely thought-provoking while at the same time readily accessible.
In one section of the book, Bishop Stephen Cottrell likens the business of the church in the world to the creation of a fourth movement to the unfinished 9th symphony of the late 19th Century Austrian composer Anton Bruckner. Being a great fan of orchestral music, I warmed excitedly to this comparison, as he pictures the church writing and performing something which aptly leads to a joyous culmination of all that has been begun and developed so far, while remaining entirely faithful to the earlier movements we already have from the composer himself.
Even as I can feel my enthusiasm for this picture again mounting, I realise that it will leave some readers quite cold. That’s the thing about pictures and comparisons: they speak to some and not others. Whether as a result of temperament, or of experience or of simply the way different minds work, tastes vary. To use the jargon of the day, not everything resonates with everybody.
Yet there are some things we all need to know and to grasp – notably that the God who made us cares for us with an unequalled and unconquerable love, and that he continually reaches out to us to let him take us and all that we are and do into his hands. That he longs to shape and guide us into the perfect and richly fulfilled lives he planned from the dawn of time so that we can trust him with and in all things – even times like these. And so we need a whole range of pictures to get this truth across.
On the day we have recently celebrated, when Jesus’ first followers were together wondering what would come next, they found themselves profoundly changed by a hard-to-describe experience of being visited by God’s Spirit. The cosmopolitan crowd that came together to find out what on earth was going on were amazed by one thing: that everyone could hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power in their own language,
Whether for you that happens through the picture of writing a final movement for an unfinished orchestral symphony or not, may you discover more and more in a language that is yours how wonderful our God is. And may God continue to raise up those who can speak in those many different languages so that we all come to life and thrive in him.