All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.  Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem.  And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each.  Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans?  And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language?  (Acts 2:4-8)

This morning, GA commissioners fanned out across Detroit to attend worship.  I walked with others 8 blocks over to the historic Fort Street Presbyterian Church.   The soaring steeple reached up into the bright blue morning sky.   Upon entering the church, I found a pew along with Jason Carle, pastor of Overland Park Presbyterian Church.  (Jason and I are roommates at the Detroit Marriott.)

The Reverend Dr. Sharon Mook entered the sanctuary with Rabbi Alissa Wise and Imam Abdullah El-Amin.  The newly elected Moderator of the PCUSA, elder Heath Rada, was also in attendance and offered opening words of greetings.  After opening songs and prayer, Rabbi Wise and Imam El-Amin gave words of greeting from their respective faith communities.  Rabbi Wise spoke of the Jewish tradition of “disagreeing for heaven’s sake” — which means on one hand standing up for justice, but then also being committed to being in relationship with one another.  Imam El-Amin celebrated our common Abrahamic tradition, and then in a moving moment, recited the Lord’s Prayer.  He then shared passages from the opening of the Quran which echo calls to glorify and rely upon God.20140615_093702

Rev. Mook preached from the text of Acts 2:1-13.    Referencing the work of theologian Eric Law, she asked this question:  Is the miracle of Pentecost a miracle of the tongue or a miracle of the ear?  We often assume the former, but this passage from Acts references speaking once and hearing/understanding three times.  It was an appropriate call for all the commissioners, and all the members of our national church, to seek to listen with urgency, patience and love as we head into the work of the General Assembly.

Following the worship service, I met in the narthex one of Rabbi Wise’s colleagues (Stephanie)  from Jewish Voices for Peace.  Stephanie and I talked about the question of whether or not the PCUSA should divest from three companies (Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard and Motorola) or boycott products made in Jewish settlements as a means to promote justice for the Palestinian community, while remaining committed to Israel’s peace and security.  I am prayerfully considering this issue.   Jewish Voices for Peace is in favor of the divestment and boycott.   I asked Stephanie if she has encountered resistance from other members of the Jewish community because of JVP’s stance.  She told me that initially some of her own family20140615_114548 (1) members stopped talking with her, but now there is more dialogue and openness on this issue within her own family and the Jewish community at large.   I continued that conversation over lunch with other commissioners.   It’s one of the topics that will be coming up in the days to come.  (Photo above — Rabbi Wise meets PCUSA moderator Heath Rada.)

Leaving the church, I was grateful for a nourishing and thought-provoking service of worship and time of dialogue.  A miracle of the tongue or a miracle of the ear?  I’ll be praying for understanding and ability to hear in the days to come.