The greatest thing that anyone can do in life is to do something kind for someone else. We have probably all experienced the healing powers of the kindness of family and strangers. This past week, I was at the grocery store picking up a few things. I thought that I really didn’t even need a cart so I got a basket instead. But that basket was heavy by the time I finished. And the lines at the store were long because there were only a few cashiers open. So I got into a line to wait. It was the end of the day and my feet hurt, I was tired, and I was stuck with this heavy basket and the person in front of me had an overflowing cart. The woman looked at me and the heavy basket in my hands and said, “Oh dear, you go first. That looks heavy and you look tired”.
I was so grateful for the kindness of that stranger. I was able to zip through the line and waddle back to the car and go home and put my feet up. Such kindness, speaks louder than any preaching, or quoted Bible verses. With acts of kindness we see the Holy Spirit at work in humanity; we see the goodness and love that is still very much alive in this world. We don’t even need to speak the same language to experience and live into such care and love. Our actions can be that universal language that bridges cultural divides and reminds the world that there are still good people out there.
We all probably know the story of the tower of Babel from the book of Genesis. But for those who need a reminder, in the beginning of time all people spoke one language and got together to build a tower that would reach up to the heavens. God knew that they could and to prevent this from happening, and risking their faith in him, he gave them each a different language so they could not complete their project and could never again attempt such a feat. Since then humanity has been scattered by our different languages and cultures. This has lead to divisions that have created misunderstanding and at times war. It has created suspicion and the labeling of those who are different as other.
But with Pentecost all this began to change and continues to silently work towards enacting God’s love in humanity. On that first Pentecost, we received the Holy Spirit that for the Apostles allowed them to be understood in all languages. The Holy Spirit is still alive and well in our world, though at times it may not seem like it. It is alive in our actions and in the choices that we make to either live into the love of Christ or to live into the violence of this world. Our actions have become the new universal language. We do not need to speak the same tongue to experience the kindness of someone who truly cares. Just as you don’t need to speak the same language to experience hate either. The early church understood this. As you heard about each disciple, many of them worked with communities that did not speak their language. But they understood one another through the kindness that was shown.
When good works of the church are based in the universal language of kindness then amazing things can be done, such the spread of Christianity from a small group of Jews in Israel to the entire world. The people who flocked to the apostles did so because they offered them compassion and care. They offered them something that nothing else could do. Each person was given renewed purpose and inspiration. They received the blessings of the Holy Spirit. N.T. Wright, a 21st century theologian, writes “The church’s task in the world is to model genuine humanness as a sign and an invitation to those around”. Our actions as Christians, as human beings, will let others in the world either feel God’s kindness or let them experience the worst of humanity.
We are being urged today and every day to embrace the work of the Spirit in our hearts and in our lives. We are being called to allow the love of God to trump all our own insecurities and very human fears to have the courage to live that love and care more fully. We are called to allow ourselves to be the vessels through which the Spirit can do its work where our actions become an invitation to others in the world, inviting them to God, inviting them to a life lived in the healing love of God. The book of Acts says that all the bystanders were, “amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘What does this mean?’”. When we live into the Word of God each and every day without judgment, without hate, but with love and acceptance people will come with curiosity wanting to know more, wanting to experience more. It is our calling to enact this kindness in the world. So this week go forth and find something good to do for a complete stranger so they may experience the power of God’s love for themselves and in so doing we share the life changing work of the Holy Spirit.
 NT Wright, 21st century.
 Acts 2: 12, NRSV.
(Based on Acts 2: 1-21)