“Hola. Hable Ingles?” “Un poco.” “Por favor, can you tell us how to get to the Cathedral?“ My husband and I have just returned from a two week vacation in Spain where we visited cathedrals, palaces and a few remaining old mosques and synagogues. The land, art and architecture of Spain are breathtaking. George and I enjoy traveling and experiencing other cultures, climates and, of course, tasting delicious food and drink. But we also appreciate the realization that Americans are just one people among many who enjoy traveling to other countries. On trains, planes, buses; in cathedrals, museums and restaurants, groups of people from all over the world are gathering and trying to communicate with those whose assistance they are seeking. How strange it must be for the locals to hear their native Spanish language distorted by tourists from Japan, Germany, France and America, who are all asking, “Donde estan los aseos?” We are have the same needs and are seeking the same directions, hoping to find the same things. In a museum ladies’ room, I smiled and politely laughed when a Japanese woman and I had a brief, but pleasant conversation in elementary Spanish. There was a moment of mutual joy when we realized that we understood each other and were connecting as travelers on a journey. I couldn’t help but notice that we were both wearing necklaces with a cross; two Christians thousands of miles from our homes were connecting through another language.
This Sunday, June 12, is the Feast of Pentecost, when Christians all around the world celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit upon the first disciples gathered in Jerusalem and upon all who have since been anointed with the Holy Spirit at their Baptism. The Holy Spirit filled the first disciples with confidence to speak and understand other languages so they could spread the gospel of Jesus Christ “to the ends of the earth”. The disciples became apo-stles when they “went out” to other nations, preaching and converting others to believe the Good News of God in Christ. Christianity was born in Israel, but it was spread by those who traveled and preached the Word. It was the Roman roads and the disciples’ faith and willingness to go beyond familiar territory that enabled the spread of Christianity beyond Israel.
Washington, DC is a wonderful city in which to work or live. Wherever we go in DC, we hear people speaking other languages – tourists from other countries or residents who have moved here for work or education. St. Alban’s is a wonderful parish in which to nurture our Christian faith and to share our experiences living, working or traveling in other countries. We seem to have a pulse on the world, and together pray for a more peaceful world. Come to St. Alban’s this Sunday at 8 or 10 am and hear the Pentecost account from the Acts of the Apostles spoken in as many languages as we can speak. Copies of the passage will be provided for those who are willing to stand and read in the language of their choice. Think of yourself as one of the apostles who went out and preached the Good News in another language. Don’t forget to wear Red – the color of fire and the Holy Spirit.