The writer of Acts tells the reader “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8 NRSV) and echoed “then everyone who calls on the name of God shall be saved” (Acts 2:21 NRSV). As I was reflecting on this, I was struck by how easily words from scripture have given legitimacy to acts of violence, oppression and colonisation.
Our current landscape in Australia is forcing us to reorder our thinking, this time through a post-colonial lens and I wonder whether this may apply to how we read the story of Pentecost. The languages spoken by those gathered, including Jews and Romans indicated a sense of being gathered in community and in unity. Australia is a country of enormous diversity and yet what is dominant is driven by power and advantage.
We are caught up in a world of binary constructs, good/bad, progressive/conservative, right/wrong or churched/unchurched. Perhaps we may be better positioned to sit and reflect if we acknowledge we are the ones whose “disadvantage is our advantage” (Gonzalez, “Acts: The Gospel of the Spirit,” 2001, 37-38). Those who ridiculed the Spirit then did so because they had nothing new or out of the ordinary. Pentecost was no longer a miracle and therefore nothing to be moved from their place of comfort.
We as Christians hope we will be moved by the Spirit and from a new place of dis-comfort. May we be active in breaking down colonial binaries and barriers and find a new community of unity in the Spirit this year.
Candidate for Ministry of Deacon