When I was in the registration area of the hall where the participants for Cape Town 2010 were gathering earlier today, the cultural and national diversity of the crowd gathering was truly stunning. Faces of Asia, Africa, Latin America, Europe, North America; the language of one conversation blending into the conversation of the one next; feet shuffling from one registration area to the next. And off to the side, a field of stored pieces of roller luggage lined up like so many multi-colored statues. Pentecost must have been like this–minus the roller luggage.
Seriously though, Cape Town and Jerusalem, Lausanne and Pentecost, may have a few things in common:
1. God the Holy Spirit drawing an incredibly diverse body of people together for purposes only God knows.
2. It’s all about people. We may be fascinated by our programs and organizations–but God does not dwell in any of them. It is human beings whom God indwells. If past history repeats itself, the enduring effects of this global congress will be in the relationships forged.
3. Chaos. Pentecost was messy. People didn’t know what was going on. Bystanders thought the believers must have been drunk. I honestly don’t know how anyone today can organize a gathering of thousands of people from 200 different countries. But heavy-handed organization would probably snuff out the spirit of a gathering of a movement. We’ll see. It was the Spirit, after all, who brought form out of chaos in the creation and turned babel into a common language at Pentecost. Let the conversation begin.