Age of Communication
live in the information age. We have more information today than there has
ever existed in the history of the world. When the Apostles gathered in
the upper room on the day of Pentecost you could have stored all the
printed information in the world on one small bookshelf. In two thousand
years the amount of information available to us has exploded especially in
the last fifty years. The Library of Congress has quadrupled in size in
the last twenty five years. We have slick machines that collect and store
this information quickly and easily. Anyone can find anything on the
internet any time. It is remarkable. But it is also overwhelming.
read recently that a person in charge of computerizing all the data
published in medical journals said that if a physician would work
diligently and read two articles from medical journals every single day to
keep up on the latest research and understandings (no small task) in his
or her field, at the end of one year he or she would only be eight hundred
years behind in his or her reading of medical journals.
is the age of information. It is a far different world today than it was
two thousand years ago.
the day of Pentecost there were maybe twenty or thirty people who would
call themselves Christian, if they knew the word. They had no information
about how to start up a religion. There was no handbook. They actually had
no scriptures describing what it was to be a Christian or even a book
about who Jesus was. There was obviously no internet to find any of this
information. It would turn out that there would be a central church but it
would be an impoverished church and would be destroyed within just a few
years so it could not manage the information about Christianity. All the
primary leaders who should be in charge of disseminating information
Peter, Paul, Stephen and James would be dead by the year sixty eight. The
small movement would be harassed as we read in the book of Acts. The early
church would not be aided by political or military campaigns. In fact it
would not be connected to any political entity for three hundred years.
Christian information would travel in only a haphazard way, word of mouth.
was little information about Christianity. There was no one managing the
information. And there were only very primitive ways to move the
yet, and yet, churches were established across the Mediterranean world
with remarkable speed. Within twenty five years of Jesus’ death there
were churches as far away from Jerusalem as Europe. And churches were
springing up all over that world. It really was remarkable.
reading for today does give us a clue or at least part of the answer as to
how this happened. There are three manifestations of the Holy Spirit that
are sited in this passage. One is the appearance of flames over the
apostle’s heads. Another is a rush of wind that came through the room.
Though these two might get your hair to stand on end I can’t imagine
they would be able to inspire great numbers of people to faith. But the
last is something else. The popular phrase for it is “speaking in
tongues.” There are two kinds of this phenomenon in the Bible. One is a
kind of ecstatic jibberish that no one really understands but is said to
be a sign of someone’s connection to God. You will see this behavior if
you go to a Pentecostal Church. The other is what is described in the
second chapter of Acts. People inspired by the Holy Spirit speak to people
from other countries with different languages and are understood even
though the speaker doesn’t know that language.
I don’t know if this literally happened. It seems a little fanciful to
me. But the fact is that the Christian message made sense in every
language. That is a historical fact. The message transcended culture and
geography in a way that no one can really explain.
they did not have the gift (or burden) of information but they did have
the gift of communication.
I know that the word communication brings up visions of satellites and
televisions and information being beamed all over the globe. But that is
not the kind of communication that matters. That is merely the noise that
fills up our lives. Communication is the emotional connection made through
the sharing of one’s spirit. Everything else is just trading information
and it has very little meaning. It can be useful but it is hardly
important in any ultimate sense. But communication, that is what we live
we confirmed four young people. They have had to learn a certain amount of
information. Knowing history and the history of faith has its place and it
is important. But that is not why I teach confirmation. I teach
confirmation for the same reason I am the minister of this church. I am
committed to creating a network of people who really communicate.
Communicating is caring, it is taking time, it is extending oneself for
another, it is responding from the heart, it is all the things that make
life worthwhile. And I dare say it is how those first Christians created
the church. They could communicate in every sense of the word and so all
the people they came in contact with could feel the very presence of God
in what they said and did and how they acted and it was irresistible. That
is our legacy and it is our task. And this world needs it now more than
ever. In Christ Jesus. Amen.