Friday, May 31, 2019

I Didn’t Know You Spoke Arabic...

A Sketch on Pentecost from Acts 2

Narrator: A warm night in Alexandria. A man is sitting on the roof of his villa gazing out to sea beyond the giant pharos, lost in thought. An orange glow is reflected in the water, silhouetting the rows of ships at anchor in the harbour below. A woman’s voice calls him from his reverie.

Phoebe: Jason! Jason! Where are you? (She comes in and sits beside him). I might’ve known I’d find you up here.

Jason: (He takes a cup from her) Thank you my dear.

Phoebe: So, how was your trip?

Jason: I....I, well

Phoebe: Did you see Clement as planned?

Jason: Not exactly. You see there was a....

Phoebe: But I thought this business meeting you’d arranged was most important. “Sorry, but I’ll have to miss your birthday party”, you said. “He’ll be in Jerusalem for Pentecost so we can finalise the deal there and then”. What happened?

Jason: You wouldn’t believe me if I told you

Phoebe: Let me be the judge of that

Jason: (Pauses) Well, that morning I was making my way up to the Temple. You know, to see the priests offer the wheaten loaves to God as the first fruits of the completed harvest, when I found myself in the middle of a great commotion. A group of people were milling around, crying out in praise of God’s wonderful works. One man near me joked they must be drunk, but I could tell they weren’t. Their voices were so clear and steady.

Phoebe: What’s so remarkable about that? The crowds can sometimes get a bit lively at Pentecost.

Jason: But here’s the thing. These people were speaking in tongues from all over the world, but they were just simple country folk from up North in Galilee. How could they possibly have known all those strange languages from faraway places such as Parthia, Libya, Arabia....?

Phoebe: Are you sure you weren’t drunk? And how do you know Arabic!

Jason: There’s a lot about me you don’t know. My father had some slaves from Arabia when I was a boy. I picked it up from them.  
Then this big chap appeared on the veranda and started to address the crowd, his huge workman’s hands waving around. Firstly he talked about the prophet Joel and how God would pour out his spirit on everyone in the last days. Then he explained how David had prophesied that one of his descendants would be raised up by God to be Lord and Christ.

Phoebe: Not another “messiah” to save us from the Romans!

Jason: A messiah unlike any other though. This descendant was Jesus, a prophet and miracle worker from Nazareth who was crucified by the authorities, yet God brought him back to life again and he appeared to his disciples. He told them to wait in Jerusalem for the coming of the Holy Spirit and this was what we were witnessing at that very moment!

Phoebe: But why would God choose a ragbag of uneducated Galileans to reveal all this, people of little importance? Surely the priests and elders should be the ones to do it?

Jason: Perhaps there’s a lot about God we don’t understand. Knowing many languages helps me to oil the wheels of business of course, but just imagine if there were no languages, no barriers between peoples.

Phoebe: Then this new spirit must be meant for everyone. I can’t wait to tell the women in the synagogue. Prepare to be the centre of attention! They’ll want to know all about this Jesus.

Jason: Anyway by now I’d lost all track of time. A lot of people in the crowd wanted to be baptised with this spirit there and then and by the time I made it to the Temple Clement had left. His secretary told me he’d had to return to Caesarea on some important family matter.

Phoebe: Next time you go to Jerusalem on business you can take me with you. I’ll make sure you’re on time for your meetings, no excuses.

Jason: Dearest, the crossing can be quite rough. You wouldn’t want to be laid low with a serious bout of sea-sickness now would you?

Phoebe: My grandfather was a ship owner. I went on trips to Crete and Macedonia with him when I was a girl. I love travelling by sea.

Jason: I didn’t know you were an experienced sailor!

Phoebe: There’s a lot about me you don’t know. Come on, tell me what you think these Galileans are going to do next .....

(They leave arm in arm, smiling and chatting)

Questions for reflection:

1. But why would God choose a ragbag of uneducated Galileans to reveal all this, people of little importance? Surely the priests and elders should be the ones to do it? What do you understand about the God of Pentecost from this question and what is its relevance for us following such a God?

2. Why do you think the God of Pentecost did not speak the languages of Hebrew (Scriptural language), Latin (empire language) and Aramaic (native language) and chose to speak the language of the then foreigners? What do we gather about Pentecost? How do we celebrate multiculturalism in our context today by speaking and understanding the vernacular of the margins today?

Concept by Raj Patta and Written by Trevor Williams


Unknown said...

There's a lot about you we still dont know dear Bharat... ;-) Good one... short, interesting concept to catch the attention and yet sums up the deeper meaning of Pentecost...

Dinesh Suna

Unknown said...

Very interesting.

Frankiocharles said...

As usual Thoughtful Anna..will ponder upon and will be happy to share my thoughts, when we meet Anna.

raj bharath patta said...

Thank you very much Frank and Dinesh bhaiyya. Appreciate your encouraging feedback

isaacbabulal said...

Great concept and good writing skill! Thank you!

raj bharath patta said...

Thank you Babulal anna

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