A reading from the Book of Genesis, chapter 11:
[In ancient times] the whole earth had one language and the same words. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves; otherwise we shall be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.” The Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which mortals had built. And the Lord said, “Look, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down, and confuse their language there, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.” So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore it was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.
And a reading from the Book of Acts, chapter 2:
[On the Day of Pentecost] all of [Jesus’ disciples] were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?”
God of all times and places, of all languages and cultures,
We confess that we are an arrogant people, a people more inclined to create divisions than to find connections. We do damage to our relationship with you by building up our own self-centeredness, and we do damage to our relationship with others by refusing to see the divine spark of your life in those who look, sound, and act in ways that aren’t familiar to us.
As we hear of the death of a black man, George Lloyd, at the hands of white police in Minnesota, United States, fill us with the Spirit of Pentecost, so that we might cry out for justice with words that bring hope to those whose lives are put at risk because of the color of their skin and with words that reach the hearts and minds of those who cannot understand.
Help us to translate your love into places of racial discord, O God.
As we hear new of political turmoil and broken promises in Hong Kong, China, fill us with the Spirit of Pentecost, so that we might speak words that might lead away from violence and toward understanding. Give us prophetic words to speak truth to those who abuse their power wherever they are found, and give us words of comfort for those who suffer at the hands of political oppressors.
Help us to translate your love into places of political discord, O God.
As same-sex weddings take place in Costa Rica for the first time, and we hear of religious groups lashing out in anger over this legal shift, fill us with the Spirit of Pentecost, so that we might speak words of true reconciliation, where the full humanity of one group of your children is not diminished and the deep theological concerns of another can be addressed – not with words of disdain and resentment, but with words of healing and transformation.
Help us to translate your love into places of religious discord, O God.
As our world continues to wrestle with the political, medical, economic, and cultural implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, fill us with the Spirit of Pentecost, so that we might speak to one another in ways that are respectful of the needs of those around us. Remove from us our inward focus, so that we can see the ways we impact other people by the choices we make or refuse to make. Surround us with people who are filled with the Spirit of Pentecost, so that they might speak words of wisdom to us as we navigate an ever-changing world.
Help us to translate your love into every corner of your beloved world, O God, so that the Spirit of Pentecost can transform our world from a Babel-like place of discord and suffering into the image of your kingdom. Amen.