“Our Mother Tongue,” by Leslie Manning

Message given at Durham Friends Meeting, May 14, 2023

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.  (Matthew 6:34)

This appears at the end of the Sermon on the Mount, and is something I try to remember and practice.  What stops me?  Often, it is fear.

Don’t worry.

Be not afraid.

Fear not, for I am always with you.  We hear this again and again from G!D and the angels.

So do not fear, for I am with you;

    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you and help you;

    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.   (Isaiah 41:10)

The celebration of Pentecost (50 days after Passover) in the Jewish tradition is the bringing of the first fruits from the winter harvest to G!d in the temple. They are offered in commemoration of the most significant gift G!d made to G!d’s people, the Torah, the laws and commandments that stated how people are to live in relationship with G!d and each other.  We know them as the Ten Commandments.  Love G!d, love your neighbor, love yourself.

After Jesus’ death and return, he left his followers for the final time promising that he would send the Comforter to them, the Spirit of Truth who comes from the Father.  Com meaning with, forte, meaning strength.  Consolation, yes, but also strength. 

When that Spirit arrived, the followers were filled with power, divine power, and went out into the packed streets of Jerusalem, full of celebrants of the festival, and spoke, preached, prophesied and testified to all they had learned and knew to be true in the tongues of every person present, spoke to each of them in their own language, their mother tongue.  And we are told that people were amazed and many believed.

For us as Friends, it could be said that our mother tongue is in our sacred silence, our expectant waiting, our seeking oneness with that same divine power that descended upon the original followers and continues to be available to each one of us, as it was to Fox and Fell, Woolman and Mott, Jones and Kelly, and is available and present whenever we gather, seeking unity with each other and divine will.

The deeper unity we seek and work for is described by Julian of Norwich when she writes, “The love of God creates in us such a oneing that when it is  truly seen, no person can separate themselves from another person.”

Or, we believe, from all of Creation.  So, let us put aside the fear that separates us from each other and the Creator, and join together in waiting upon that Spirit.  Taking each day as it comes as the gift it is meant to be.

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