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Pentecost and Stranger Things

By Jason Elwell
In eLetter
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If you’ve paid any attention to the outside world lately, you’d know that season 4 of “Stranger Things” dropped last week. “Stranger Things” is a science fiction series set in the 1980s and comes equipped with the typical rebellious kids wrestling with scholastic melodrama and, of course—monsters from another dimension. In this series two worlds collide: the world of monsters and the real world of Hawkins, Indiana, where there’s an arcade, a shopping mall, and bicycles with banana seats. If you’re a child of the ‘80s, it touches all the feels.

So what do kids and monsters have to do with Pentecost? Well, much like the television show, Pentecost celebrates two worlds colliding. In Acts chapter 2 we find the disciples gathered in an upper room in Jerusalem awaiting a gift from God. Then suddenly, out of nowhere, heaven invades earth. “A sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from Heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.” At once, they began to speak in other languages that were not their own. Verse 6 continues, “When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken.” In this one crazy scene, people spoke and understood languages they had never learned. Totally tubular, right!?

It might seem strange, but this is exactly what happens when God’s kingdom invades ours. Everything gets flipped upside down…or, in this case, right side up. Acts 2 is a reverse of the curse we see in Genesis 11, when a united human race that spoke one language thought they could make a name for themselves by building a tower that reached heaven. God saw their disordered intentions, confused their language, and scattered them across the earth. This is what happens when people take matters into their own hands and think they can do what only God can do. But there’s good news—God didn’t leave us to our own devices. He sent us Jesus who, by laying down his life, tore down the “dividing wall of hostility” between us and God.

This is the Pentecost miracle. When the veil between us and God was torn in two, it gave us access to the right-side-up world: the one where God is in charge and not Caesar. The one where people from every tribe and every tongue aren’t separated by language and culture. The one where love reigns over evil and oppression. The one where people from different ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds share life together. A place where everyone, from insiders to outsiders, is welcome at the table.

The miracle of Pentecost is a call to join God in his rescue mission to reconcile the world to himself. Please join us on Sunday as we take a glance into the “right-side-up.” Together we’ll receive the message of Pentecost and ask God to fill us afresh with his Spirit, empowering us to be witnesses of his kingdom here on Earth.

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