Since today is Pentecost Sunday, I found myself reading Acts 2, the part of the New Testament whereby the Holy Spirit descends upon the disciples gathered in the upper room, enabling them to speak in tongues.
Acts 2:5-12 tell us:
Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”
However, in Acts 2:13, we read, Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”
Upon reading that last passage, I laughed out loud. It sounds like something my friends and I say to one another today! Somebody starts singing at the party, we say “they must have had too much wine.” Somebody with a busy schedule wants to take extra classes, we ask, “are you sure you are not drunk?” We even say it of ourselves. “I decided to run a marathon, I must be drunk.”” I decided to stay in school for another five years, I must be drunk.” Except for maybe the party, when we say “we must have been drunk,” we often do not mean that we literally drank a whole bottle of wine at the time of our decision. It is simply an expression to note that we have done something that people might think is “crazy.” At the time of Pentecost, speaking in tongues was kind of, for lack of a better word, “crazy.” Even crazier was how all were heard in their own native language. What a beautiful testament to the diversity of ways of speaking to and about God.
When we make an “outlandish decision,” it can be frightening. Some people are amazed at us, but others will make fun of us. “You’re majoring in what?- You’re never going to get a job!” “Oh my God, you are going to talk to that homeless man on the street? He looks dirty!”
In today’s world, we can even say that believing in God is “crazy.” Two planes fly into the World Trade Center. Children die of cancer. Hurricanes and tornadoes devastate cities. People injure one another physically and emotionally, they break one another’s trust. Where is God in all this? Yet, believers still attend worship services. They still pray to God before bed every night. They still thank God for their blessings and praise God’s name. Some even dedicate their lives to God, vowing themselves to a life of celibacy and poverty. How? Perhaps they’ve “had too much wine.”
As Christians, it seems as though we are called to do the “outlandish” and “crazy.” We are followers of Jesus, and that means we often must take the road that is less popular and less comfortable. That means, when having a party, we invite the person who all of our peers say is “uncool.” When we see a homeless person on the street, we go and buy them something to eat and chat with them, rather than passing them by like they are less than human. Instead of simply writing #yesallwomen on our Facebook pages, we proudly incorporate feminine language into our talk about God, even if some people laugh at us for being “ridiculous.” We sacrifice our summers or times of relaxation to help persons in need, sometimes traveling to places far from home. We decide to study something we think is important and has the potential to transform lives, even if does not yield a lot of money and people say we are “impractical.” We stand in solidarity with those suffering injustice, even if it means risking our own ambitions. We continue to worship and pray to God, even though people tell us our beliefs are “unreasonable,” even though God is not a tangible reality we can perceive with our senses, and remains a mystery we will never fully comprehend. We somehow are able to find God in the strangest of places- in the stranger on the bus, in the old woman begging for change on the street, in the co-worker who is demanding and sometimes gets on our nerves.
Living a Christian life means doing the “crazy” instead of settling for “the non-risky and predictable.” It means not being “normal.” It means being told time and time again, “perhaps you’ve had too much wine.”