It takes all kinds
Around the year 53 AD or so, saddened by reports of dissension in the Christian community St. Paul had founded in Corinth, Greece, he wrote this to the converts there: Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. (1 Cor. 12:4-6)
And then Paul goes on to talk about the various gifts people bring, all emanating from the one Spirit, who allots them just as she chooses. “For just as the body is one and has many members,” Paul says, “and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.” He tells them they have all been baptized into one body – and now, could they all just get along, please?
I was reminded of what the music director in my church in Brooklyn told me many years ago. She quoted her mother, who apparently used to say, whenever people didn’t see eye to eye, or if it seemed mystifying what in the world was inspiring someone’s actions or words at a particular moment – “Well, it takes all kinds to make a world.”
Wise words. So true, right? It certainly does take all kinds of people to make a world. But that’s not a bad thing!
And you know, I think recognition of that is what Pentecost is all about. We hear about the gathered believers – apparently only 120 persons who made up the church at that time, according to the first chapter of Acts – all of them together, when along come these little fires appearing over all their heads, and then a wind that rocks the house, and then they’re all speaking different languages, but amazingly, they understand each other, each in their own language.
This vision of all the languages spoken, all the people from all the different nations – the vision of your sons and daughters prophesying, your young people seeing visions and your old people dreaming dreams, while the Spirit is poured out on everybody – is truly a vision of the beauty of diversity, the beauty of difference, all of it held together in the love and fire and beauty of the Spirit. The wonder, the miracle really, is that we ARE different – and yet we are one. We are diverse, we are not all the same – but we are held together, like a beautiful mosaic, like a harmonic musical piece – in the Spirit.