Monday, February 13, 2012

Speaking in Tongues

Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. Acts 2:3-4 NRSV

What happened back there in Jerusalem among these first believers during the festival of Pentecost?

This passage has always given me the "willies", mostly because I don't trust the experience of the people who insist that they've genuinely had it. Or that it did any good.

Apostle Paul cautioned that unless it could be made sense of by another person (interpreted) for the good of the community, the practice of speaking in tongues should mostly be shut down.

Paul gave much more weight to prophecy. Somebody needed to speak on behalf of God in a way that helped the whole faith community to do the work of God in the world.

That would inevitably mean overcoming their own internal and external obstacles.

* * * * * * *
She was as wound up as the main spring of a grandfather clock that has stopped running... when the attempt by everyone to restart it has been to wind the spring a little tighter rather than oiling the bearings and washing out the gum deposits that have brought the movement to a halt.

She spoke in fluent English. Heavily tinted with the accent of another language, her mother tongue.

She had much emotion to unload. So many disparate details that I could not begin to hold them all. She has obviously experienced some trauma in her life. How much real, how much imagined I will never know. Regardless, it's what she carries.

I listened to a ton of it. I hope it helped her to expend and release this energy. Maybe her internal pressure gage dropped a few PSI. I hope so.

It reminds me of a time when my daughter had a lot to unload. Nobody would have accused her of "speaking in tongues" as we imagine some highly spiritual and churchy experience. But she sure had a tongue of fire. And at that point in time, it was my job to hear and absorb as much of it as she could unload.

I hope the firey tongues I experienced recently from another person helped her. I know what I heard is only a portion of what she has at times experienced in life. And she carries it with her.

Maybe instead of seeking to speak in tongues as evidence of a spiritual experience we should seek to "listen in tongues". That is, can we be spectacular listeners and observers?

God help us to listen when the firey tongues around us open up a bit. God help us to be calm in a storm.



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