I want to begin, briefly this morning by telling you about a movie called The Princess Bride. It’s one of my favorite movies and Mary loves it as well. The movie was released in 1987; so it’s been around a while. There’s a chance you’ve seen the movie but just in case, I want to tell you a bit about the film.
There is a beautiful princess (who’s not quite a princess). Her name is Buttercup. Buttercup is in love with her farmhand, Wesley. Wesley is poor and impoverished. Eventually, like many from our own island seeks his fortune at sea. Word returns to poor Buttercup that Wesley has been captured and killed by the Dread Pirate Roberts. Her heart broken, she is betrothed in marriage to Humperdinck, the Crown Prince of Florin. On the night before her wedding, she’s kidnapped by a mismatched crew of bandits; a Romanian giant, a Spanish swordsman, and an Italian intellectual. Humperdinck is planning to have her murdered and blame a neighboring country, Guilder. Her body will then be planted on the Guilder frontier.
In the course of the kidnapping, which is a ruse (not a ransom) to provoke a war between the neighboring kingdoms of Florin and Guilder, the famed Dread Pirate Roberts appears from nowhere. Does he want to rescue the princess or kidnap her for his own benefit? The Spaniard first raises the question. The pirate’s ship is gaining on the kidnapper’s vessel. After examining all the possibilities, the Italian intellectual answers with one word, “inconceivable”.
The next morning, the three kidnappers come ashore and taking the princess, and climb impossible “Cliffs of Insanity”. While ascending the Yosemite like cliffs, they look back and see that the Dread Pirate Roberts is again following them. Using their own rope, he’s right behind, scurrying up the rope in a manner that can only mean he will soon catch them. When this observation is made, we again receive the one word response: “inconceivable”. By this time the Spaniard is catching on. He says to the Italian, the ring leader of the kidnappers, “You keep using that word. I’m beginning to think you don’t know what it means.”
Do we know what the word means? Are we using it properly? Please, check your dictionaries. You might want to Google it now, as I am about to use it.
It is inconceivable that God would not burst out of the room in which the disciples would have kept God contained. We cannot keep the Holy Spirit contained the Upper Rooms of our lives. From our private devotions, prayers, or even Sunday morning attendance; at some point it will spill out onto the street.
It is inconceivable that the movement Jesus began would be limited to the people Jesus knew and interacted with. I resist the urge to call the first group of disciples huddled in the upper room, waiting on the Holy Spirit, “the First United Methodist Church of Jerusalem”. Though I admit, it’s something I’ve called them before. They weren’t a church; they weren’t supposed to be a church. That idea came much later. They were the Jesus movement. As the late Clarence Jordan, translator of the Cotton Patch Gospels, they were concerned with Jesus’ “doings and happenings”. They knew each other’s and happenings. Doings and happenings did not mean gossip about Simon Peter’s mother in law or that when Jesus called James and John the Sons of Thunder, he meant they passed gas all night long. It meant they were always on the move doing more, meeting more people, experiencing the happenings of life in different places than they did in previous days. Staying put wasn’t an option for the disciples.
It is inconceivable that God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit would ask you to check your identity at the door, and abandon what makes you, you, before you entered the kingdom of God. You don’t have to declare pre-existing conditions to the Holy Spirit.
It is inconceivable that other languages of the spirit were speaking in unintelligible tongues that no one understands. The real, living, actual languages we speak define who we are. They are part of a brain, or DNA, and our identity. Your language defines you, your baggage, your culture, your family, the food you eat, and the hands your eat it with. This is real tangible stuff. It is inconceivable that God does not deal with the tangible means of giving men and women the ability to speak in known foreign languages.
God wants to speak our language; this is why it is inconceivable that God would not want to embrace at the most basic level of our humanity.
It is inconceivable that the Holy Spirit would say; you must speak my language. The Holy Spirit is saying, I will speak your language. The Holy Spirit is saying, I will go to the classes, learn the grammar, the crazy alphabets, the weird pronunciations, and speak to you in a way you can understand.
Pentecost is a God driven language experience. God wants to talk to us, through the Holy Spirit, in dialogue in conversation; in our normal language and dialogue. When we roll our eyes about inclusive language debates and politically correct speech; please remember this: the birthday of the church is marked by a festival of divinely ordained politically correct speech. God doesn’t want to offend us. The Holy Spirit spoke to the Parthians in Parthian, to the Romans in Latin, Arabs in Arabic and this offended the people of Jerusalem so much so they accused the disciples of being drunk. Good upstanding religious people not only do they not speak Arabic, Latin, or Parthian they don’t speak about religious matters and God’s dream for the Kingdom of God to be established on Earth.
When we pray, we’ve created so many euphemisms; clichés, and expectations, people think you need to know Robert’s Rules of Order to pray. If nothing else, the story of Pentecost should lay waste to that heretical fallacy. If we want to talk to God or about God, we do it like we do at the store, post office, or over the dinner table. Let God speak to us and may we receive the God’s words and God’s people with open hearts, open minds, and open doors.