Archive for May 13th, 2023

Acts 15: Control

Saturday, May 13, 2023Jerusalem-Council

In this book which describes the birth of a community, we see how the followers of Christ dissent and argue, come together and unify. They are much like members of any community we might see today. In this reading, church members gather in an effort to both communicate and to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit. We witness the concern for what some believe to be a lack of control and what to others appears as micro-management. We can find ourselves at the office lunch table or coffee pot, at a family or neighborhood gathering to say the same things about our own society. Who has control over what and why?  Where do we leave room for the Holy Spirit to speak? Are we falling back on old rules, customs, habits and traditions? Are we seeking change because we are bored or because it is needed? Today’s reading can give us a good deal to ponder.

Pieter Bruegel the Elder: The Tower of Babel

Pieter Bruegel the Elder: The Tower of Babel

In many churches, authority comes not only from the bishops and the hierarchy, but also from the people in the pews; yet sometimes the little voice is overridden by the bigger, more powerful one. In a family, each generation’s voice must be heard if the large unit is to flourish and give life; yet sometimes the children, the tired and those who are marginalized are ignored. God’s diversity not only allows for a variety of voices; it requires an array of choice. We have only to look to the story of the Tower of Babel to see why. (Genesis 11) Humankind survives the great flood yet still has the impression that they are in charge, and so God sends an assortment of languages upon them, causing them to separate and diversify.

Those of us who teach the acquisition of language know that we teach far more than verbs and nouns; we teach a way of thinking and various modes of expression. We teach a way to step out of ourselves and into the shoes of another. In God’s plan, this rainbow of sound and form is brought back from its prism of variety at the feast of the Pentecost, the day when the Holy Spirit descends upon the apostles who go out to tell the story of Christ. The amazing part of the story is that people from differing lands understand what the apostles say. The people were astounded, and in amazement they asked, “Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans?  Then how does each of us hear them in his own native language?”  (Acts 2:7-8) This variety of people hears because the Holy Spirit speaks . . . and it is the presence of the Holy Spirit we must seek when we feel ourselves to be in a circumstance where control or passive aggression are being unjustly exercised – either by others or ourselves.

We might, when we find ourselves in these restricted places, intone the words of Psalm 133.

How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!  It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down upon the collar of his robes.  It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion.  For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.

It is good . . .

Even life for evermore . . .


Images from: http://biblicaltruth.net/scripture-study-by-verse/acts-1519-21-what-yahweh-expects-from-gentile-converts/ and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Tower_of_Babel_%28Bruegel%29

Adapted from a favorite written on November 3, 2009.

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