The Hebrew myth used to explain the many varied cultures

And languages

Spread throughout the world

Is found in Genesis Chapter 11


I’m sure we all know the basic story


People have repopulated the earth following the flood

And they share a common language


Because people are still marred by sin

They begin to conspire against God


They want to show how powerful they are

And so they decide to build a city

And in the city a tower reaching to the sky


Only, God’s not pleased by this bold act of self-assertion

And so God comes down and confuses their language

So that they all begin speaking in different languages

And are scattered abroad throughout the earth…


During the feast of Pentecost

50 days after Jesus rose from the dead

And 10 days after he ascended into heaven

God fulfilled his promise

And sent the Spirit upon his disciples

And they began to speak in other languages


Only, unlike what happened at Babel,

Wherein the ability to communicate was lost,

On Pentecost, the ability to communicate across languages is miraculously restored


The disciples begin to speak in tongues

And those who hear them –

Regardless of what language the disciples are speaking –

Hear them speaking in each one’s own native language


Pentecost is the undoing of Babel, as it were…

Though we speak in many languages

We find that there is but one word of God –

One message of salvation

Through the name

The cross

The resurrection

The saving work of Jesus


And regardless of the language used

We can all hear it in our own language, as it were

As it comes to us as a means of God’s grace

And through the Spirit

Creates faith in us


And it’s this faith that saves us –

The faith that God creates in us

Through the Spirit

As we hear

And gladly receive the word of God…


It’s also important to note

That thought there’s this miraculous event happening

With the disciples speaking in tongues

And the Spirit coming upon them with the sound of a rushing wind

And tongues of fire resting over their heads

The immediate result is less than stunning


The people who hear them assume they’re drunk


It’s not until Peter begins to preach –

It’s not until Peter begins to proclaim the word of God –

That the really miraculous thing begins to happen


People are so moved by the hearing of God’s word

That 3000 of them end up being baptized


Remember what it says in Paul’s letter to the Romans:

Faith comes from what is heard,

And what is heard comes through the word of Christ

There are lots of languages that we speak in life


I speak heating and air conditioning


Electrical circuitry



I speak husand and father


I speak pastor


I speak lots of different languages, as it were,


And I’m sure each of us speak a multitude of languages, as well


Some of us speak mother


Some speak lawyer

Or engineer

Or counselor

Or teacher

Or student


And, of course, based on our cultural

And ethnic

And national backgrounds

Many of us speak languages in addition to English


There are lots of languages –

Lots of different tongues represented here today


Business tongues


Professional tongues


Vocational tongues


National tongues


And yet here we are

All together

In one accord




And sent forth in mission

By One Spirit


We speak many and varied languages


But still, God’s word is able to break through

And communicate with us

The saving truth of God

In Christ’s death and resurrection


And our hearts

Our minds

Our lives

Are changed forever…


Grab your ELW hymnal

And turn to the back

To page 1162


There you’ll find Luther’s Small Catechism

And how Luther explains the meaning of the Apostles’ Creed


The 3rd article of the Creed is on the Spirit’s work in making God’s people holy:

You know it:


I believe in the Holy Spirit

The holy catholic Church

The communion of Saints

The forgiveness of sins

The resurrection of the body

And the life everlasting


But now, let’s read together, Luther’s explanation of this (read it)

I love how that starts:

“I believe that by my own understanding and strength I cannot believe in Jesus…”


Apart from the Holy Spirit

There can be no Church –

No communion of Saints or Body of Christ

No forgiveness

No resurrection to eternal life


But notice the way Luther begins his explanation of this 3rd Article

I believe that by my own understanding and strength I cannot believe


And this can be seen as self-deprecating –

As putting ourselves down, you know –

Or as just an honest acknowledgement

That faith is a gift from God through the Spirit

Not something we work up for ourselves

Or within ourselves

Or by our own power

Or wisdom

Or understanding

Or knowledge

Or strength


We are fully dependent on God’s grace

That creates faith in us

So that we can believe in Jesus Christ

Be members of his body –

The holy catholic Church –

Offer and experience the forgiveness of sins

And, in the end, receive the gift of eternal life in the power of the resurrection…


7 of our young members of this congregation have completed a 2 year process

Of faith formation

Of education

Of exploration of the meanings of the Church and Church history

The Bible

And the basics of the faith as presented by Luther in the Small Catechism –

The 10 Commandments

The Creed

The Lord’s Prayer

Holy Baptism


And Holy Communion


And they’ve made the decision to stand up today

And to affirm the covenant that God made with them in Holy Baptism


Abby, Zach, Jimmy, Austin, Tim, Ryan and Justin

This is a step that I pray none of you take lightly –

That you’ll not now disappear from this community of faith –

But that you’ll take the rights and responsibilities,

That come along with membership, seriously


But more than that

That you’ll continue in the life of faith wherever life leads you

That you’ll continue to listen to God’s word

And continue to explore the deeper meanings that undergird what we believe


I pray that you’ll ask good questions –

That you’ll be faithfully curious –

And that you’ll seek faithful answers to life’s many questions


And that you’ll trust in the Spirit of God to continue to call



Make you holy

And keep you in the one true faith –

Making you one with us

As we’re made one in him,

Regardless of what different languages we might speak…


To this end I pray in the words that believers have prayed throughout the ages:

Come Holy Spirit,