Small Group Tools
Texts: Acts 2:1-4; John 14:16; Acts 2:5-13, Joel 2:28-32; Acts 2:22-39; Psalms 110:1-3. July 14, 2018
Folk singer David Roth strummed his guitar among a circle of about 30 people in the McDaniel College lounge in Westminster, Maryland. He sang about a teacher who inspired him to love music: “Thank you for the music, Mr. Ryan, a simple gift you gave that day; you’ll never know how much it has meant to me.” The group swayed gently to the music, including “Common Ground on the Hill” founder Walt Michael. Roth is one of five speakers at this month’s Common Ground on the Hill’s flagship class, “The Search for Common Ground.” Roth’s session focused on singing together for social justice.
“This is the class we hope will create ripples throughout our community, where we have conversations we need in order to have a healthy society,” Walt Michael said in his class introduction. “We are in an age now where people don’t talk across lines,” he said. “We seek to stop division, we seek to listen to each other and become inspired by people. We live in such a divided society,” Michael said, “and people understand a lot of those divisions are not real, and they’re unnecessary. There’s a lot of misunderstanding going on and people feel manipulated,” he said. “Perhaps having those conversations that they’re told are difficult is what we need. They’re really not that hard. People want to talk and to listen.”
Other speakers include a sociology professor on African-American culture, members of Mad River Theater Works who discuss their performance of “Freedom Riders,” a reverend who delivers humanitarian aid at the Arizona-Mexico border, and a Middle Eastern studies professor who brought her family to the United States to escape the violence in Palestine. Other topics include gun violence, race relations, and immigration. 
Clearing up misunderstandings between people seems such a herculean task in our divided society. Clearing up misunderstandings about God was just as challenging in the days following Christ’s ascension. This week’s lesson looks at the day things became clear—Pentecost. Human language is so inadequate when it comes to communicating the beauty of God’s character, that it takes a member of the holy trinity to reveal God to us: The Holy Spirit. At Pentecost, everyone present heard the gospel message clearly, in his or her own language without any mistranslation issues.
This Spirit-induced clarity allowed Peter to speak plainly: “God sent Jesus to do miracles among you, but you and other wicked men put him to death on the cross.” Instead of being put off by such a strong accusation, the Spirit’s influence opened the hearts of these people; they were cut to the heart and asked what they needed to do to be saved. With the baptism of 3,000 new converts, Pentecost was the ultimate church-plant launch. God’s new church went from there with Holy Spirit power to the entire world to all people with the clear, simple gospel message.