A reflection on Acts 2:1-12by the Rev. Dr. Sherman G. Hicks, executive directorMulticultural Ministries program unit
Our scripture reading from Acts ends with that good Lutheran question, "What does this mean?" Just what does the story of Pentecost mean for the ELCA today? Let's begin to answer this question by looking at three verses. In verse 1 we read that all were present in the beginning. In verse 4 we read that all were filled with the Holy Spirit. And, in verse 12 we read that all were amazed and perplexed.Are we not reading that the Church of Jesus Christ started as a multicultural, multiracial, multilingual church? I believe as we read this story we are being informed of this fact.
Sometimes I hear from some that the ELCA’s desire and work to become a truly multicultural church reflecting its context is simply an attempt to be "politically correct." But when I read the story of Pentecost, I understand the ELCA's desire and work to be a truly multicultural church as being faithful to what God has already done in the story of Pentecost. Let's be clear about one thing: By being a truly multicultural church we are not creating something new; rather, we are restoring what God started at Pentecost.
Being multicultural ... is God's mission that we embark on and not our own. Pentecost was God's work and not an accident.
Being multicultural in the context in which we live today is God's agenda and not humanity's agenda. It is God's mission that we embark on and not our own. Pentecost was God's work and not an accident.
Our involvement in God’s mission comes into play when you and I come forward with a desire and effort to "restore and be community," which God first did in the story of Pentecost.
How now might the ELCA in its life and witness be faithful to the story of Pentecost? We might begin by acknowledging that different languages and cultures can bring us to the appreciation and acceptance of people who are not exactly like us. We might continue by letting go of the familiar and reaching for the unfamiliar. For some, multicultural, multiracial, multilingual is the unfamiliar that we are called to reach. This faithfulness can bring about a transformation of one's self even if one doesn't recognize it on one's own.
During this long season of Pentecost I invite you to join the Multicultural Ministries program unit in our effort to assist our church to become truly multicultural. Become familiar with our Web site, our staff and the resources we have to offer. Read the story on multicultural ministry in the July 2009 issue of The Lutheran.
Remember, "we are blessed to be a blessing."