Standing by a lake near Assisi in the bustle of the tourist crowd, a beautiful sound floated over the water. As it did, a hush fell on the crowd and we stood mesmerised by the beautiful singing. Later we learnt it was a group of monks singing in tongues.
Glossolalia, or speaking in tongues, was one of the wonders that occurred at Pentecost, ‘All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.’ Acts 2 v 4
It was an amazing wonder as people from different nations heard of God’s love for them in their own language, and many were added to the Church. So it seems sad today that when the Holy Spirit is mentioned, and particularly speaking in tongues, there is often a fearful reaction. In some cases it is understandable, as Christians of all denominations can misuse and abuse worship. However we read in Galatians 5:22 – 23, that, ‘the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self- control...’ none of which should engender fear. Which leaves a dilemma, especially as we come to Pentecost once more. Do we major again on the Church’s birthday, and leave the wonders to things of the past, or expect similar wonders to happen today?
The Christian Church, like so much else, wonderfully leaves each person to decide for themselves whether these things are for today, or simply for the new Church on that first day.
However, though we may disagree theologically, each Christian can unite as we pray that God’s kingdom come, God’s will be done, and that God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, will help us his Church to continue to speak the language of his love, kindly and gently, patiently to a world who is longing to hear it.
Rev'd Fiona Hall,
St George's Church