“At [the sound of the apostles speaking in other languages] 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? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs–in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.'” – Acts 2:6-11


(A very elegant and related drawing can be found at https://goo.gl/qcmMQt. Also, the sound clip in question can be found at https://goo.gl/uhfi41)


This past week, the online world erupted and divided into two camps. What was the provocation for such a fracas? It was a simple audio clip. When you listen to the audio, you hear either “yanny” or “laurel.” For some individuals, like me, it is possible to hear BOTH of these sounds from the same audio file. Now that the audio clip has captured the imagination of the country, several sources online modify the sound so that you can hear both sounds from the same recording, so it has been shown that both answers are technically correct.


There is, of course, a natural explanation to the yanny/laurel auditory phenomenon, but on first listen for many people, they can hardly imagine hearing anything other than what they first hear. There is only one thing being said in the recording, but one can hear two very different words.


This coming Sunday, we are celebrating the arrival of the Holy Spirit. As part of our celebration, we remember the miracle of when the apostles spoke and their onlookers understood them.  This miracle has been interpreted in various ways. In doing interpreting, one should note that there are more languages listed beyond the estimated number of individuals speaking. One thought is that the Holy Spirit moved among the crowd and gave them the ears to hear.


While we cannot understand how God did that miracle on the festival of Pentecost some two thousand years ago, we must also acknowledge that we still are working to understand the natural sound phenomena that exist in our world. With this in mind, we still can celebrate the miracle that God the Holy Spirit proclaims God’s deeds of power so that they are heard. Not only does God the Holy Spirit proclaim God’s deeds of power in the story of Acts, but also in our world today. One colleague of mine remembers one Sunday when he was thanked for several different sermons, none of which he actually preached! Clearly, the Holy Spirit works in ways that allow people to hear what they need to hear. This is far more impressive than hearing both “yanny” and “laurel.”


God continue to be with you,
Yours in Christ, Pastor Paul+