Psalm 104:24-34, 35b
John 14:8-17, (25-27)
Peace be with you!
The majority in the society and the world determines the definition of “normal.” Walking with two feet without assistance of a cane, walker, or another person is the norm. Articulating sounds in the right way so other people can understand you is the norm. Using your hands to eat, dress, shower, and write is the norm. Society determines the norm, which creates discrimination called ableism against those who do things differently.
People with disabilities are discriminated against simply because they do certain things differently than how the norm says it should be done. Most individuals with disabilities need simple adaptations to be able to function in the world. For example, I use an electric wheelchair and a walker for mobility, Intellikeys (an oversized keyboard) to type, an iPad to speak, and a car with a ramp to travel. With a few adaptations, any person with a disability strives in the world.
In his book The Bible, Disability, and the Church: a New Vision of the People of God, Amos Yong talks about his younger brother who has Down syndrome. Yong remembers staying home with his brother every Sunday morning when his parents, both pastors, went to church. Due to his many medical issues, his brother required intense care when he was young.. As a teenager, Yong could tend to his brother’s needs (changing diapers, feeding, bathing) when his parents worked.
The Spirit comes and rests on all of the disciples on the day of the Pentecost (Acts 2:1-3). The disciples begin to speak in other languages and are able to understand each other (Acts 2:4). How incredible that the Holy Spirit could cross the language barrier to allow men and women of different languages to communicate with each other. The language barriers create norms for society – as a general rule Americans speak English and individuals from Japan speak Japanese and are not able to understand each other. Yong’s brother, like myself, has his own language barrier with his speech impediment. Many times when I meet someone new – an unfamiliar listener – they do not take the time to understand me. Just the other day I had a consult with a new doctor who would not slow down to understand me and would look to my step-dad to interpret and to answer her questions. After we left, my step-dad voiced his annoyance, especially since, in his opinion, I was speaking pretty clearly for a change.
The Jews do not understand what is going on. The disciples appear to be drunk, and it is still morning (Acts 2:7, 13). The Jews, who did not accept Jesus’ teachings, are now questioning the disciples’ integrity. The Holy Spirit brings the disciples together, despite language barriers, to worship God the Father and to share the good news with others. The Holy Spirit operates under the power of God, and therefore he sends the disciples, including us, to new and unexpected places of ministry. Our driving force becomes the Holy Spirit, which marks God’s presence in the world.
The prophet-hood makes up the community of disciples who are in the world to make the presence of God known to the lost and the poor. Prophets (including us) are messengers of Jesus’ good news who work to expand the community of believers. Our prophecy becomes proof that God is in the world here and now.
The Holy Spirit becomes a sign of God reaching for us and reclaiming us as his children; he becomes a sign of our salvation from our sins. Without the Holy Spirit, we would not be crossing barriers to spread the good news. With the Holy Spirit, we make God known to the world by spreading the good news and sharing his love, forgiveness, and grace.
The Holy Spirit is in Yong’s brother who has Down syndrome. As an adult, his brother has transcribed the Bible several times and helps his parents lead worship from the pew. His brother is an inspiration to the members of the congregation as he greets everyone at the door and raises his hands while singing. The Holy Spirit rests in Yong’s brother and gathers others around him to see how God the Father and God the Son is forever present in the world.
Thanks be to God!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for sending the Holy Spirit to blow us to new and unexpected places of ministry. Help us to trust the Holy Spirit to drive us where you need us to be. Gather us into your community of disciples and send us out into the world to share the good news in new and unexpected places. Thank you for making your presence in the world known to us. Amen.
Thanks to the Triune God – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Please answer the following reflective questions in the comments below. Please agree to disagree and be respectful to each other. (If you have not already done so, please also take a moment, to sign the comment covenant.) You can answer as many questions as you would like.
1. How do you feel the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life?
2. Where does the Holy Spirit gather you and other people together?