The drama of the passage from Acts assigned for this Sunday, with its rushing winds and tongues of flame, is the most familiar image associated with Pentecost. Where God once confused human language and scattered human communities across the face of the earth as a response to human pride and isolationism (Gen 11:1-9), at Pentecost we remember how God creates community while respecting diversity by speaking to each of us in ways we can understand.
Yet it is the gospel passage from John that hints best at what happened on that first day of Pentecost. Jesus assures the disciples, and the rest of us, that "when [the Holy Spirit] comes, [it] will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment." This is the heart of the gospel and the content of our proclamation – that our notions of sin, our ideas of righteousness, our patterns of judgment will, in the end, be proven wrong.
At Pentecost we are drawn into the inner life of God, which is cracked open for the entire world to see. We are adopted into a family to which everyone belongs, where everyone is welcome. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, we are sent to do what Jesus did, and even "greater works than these" (John 14:12), namely to proclaim God’s reconciling love to people of every language and land.