The Feast of Pentecost, June 9, 2019
Texts: Acts 2:1-21; Psalm 104:25-35, 37; Romans 8:14-17; John 14:8-17
Pastor Anne Meredith Kyle
Come Holy Spirit, come. Come as the wind and cleanse. Come as the fire and burn. Convict, convert and consecrate our lives, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen!
Today we are celebrating of the feast day of Pentecost. This is one of the three great feasts of the Church along with Christmas and Easter. The Christmas feast is alive with the promise of creation in the birth of a new king, born to set all of God’s people free. Easter is the world made alive again as God’s creation is redeemed in the death and resurrection of Jesus. Today, in Pentecost the joy of all creation is sustained by the energy which burns in us through the power of the Holy Spirit. We have marked that joy by dressing our church and ourselves in the fiery red of the Holy Spirit.
The second chapter of Acts is the story of the moment when Jesus’ friends and all who were gathered felt a rush of wind and saw the fiery power of the Holy Spirit filling them up and pouring out of them as a witness of great understanding. Faithful Jews from all over the known world were living in Jerusalem at that time and all of them heard and understood the witness of the Apostles. All of the people gathered on that day heard and understood! That was an amazing miracle of the Holy Spirit. It is tempting, as a preacher, to stand before you and try to help you understand what all of this means… The passage also tells us that ALL present on that day were amazed and perplexed… Don’t you love a passage that proclaims both understanding AND a bunch of folks who were perplexed? Some were bold enough to ask what all of this could this mean, but others sneered suggested that the people present were drunk. Peter steps forward to clear things up and leans back on the prophet, Joel who said that God would pour out the Spirit on all! They are not drunk, Peter exclaimed, They are filled with the Holy Spirit!
We shared a portion of Psalm 105 which reminds us of all that God has created and that God sent the Spirit on all things… the Holy Spirit has been with all of creation, right from the beginning! Paul is recalling that constant presence of the Holy Spirit in his letter to the Church at Rome, reminding us that we are children of God and that we have received the Spirit of God as our strength!
In the Gospel passage from John, Phillip asks Jesus to show them the Father. Jesus begins his reply with something like scolding Have I been with you all this time and you still don’t know me? and goes on to tell them that Jesus and God are one… He says I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Jesus tells them that, if they love him, they will keep his commandments… His commandments are to love God and love one another as Jesus loves. This sounds both so simple and like a tall order… and it is both! But Jesus promises that there will be help for us… that God will send an advocate… a helper… one to sustain us and to remind us of all that Jesus said and did… that advocate is the Holy Spirit. Jesus goes on to say that the Spirit abides with us and is in us… Such good news! Our helper and sustainer is always present… the Holy Spirit is in us!
Jesus had shared the Spirit with them already, when he breathed on the disciples as they gathered, hidden behind locked doors. He gave them the Holy Spirit to guide them… in the account from the second chapter of Acts, the spirit comes to his followers boldly, in the open, and alive with sensation as the Spirit was seen and heard and felt. The Holy Spirit went totally public on the day of Pentecost… and we celebrate that gift as the birth of the Church!
Today we are celebrating Pentecost with confirmation. Two young women here at Christ and Trinity, Miley and Olivia, have walked the way of learning and claiming their baptismal promises in their confirmation class, taught so ably by Wanda Meyer. In a few minutes I am going to call on the Holy Spirit to fill them up and to sustain them as woman of faith throughout their lives. Their mentors and parents and all of you will join me as I lay hands on them in the name of Jesus Christ and confirm their faith in the three-person God… who is our creator, our redeemer, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, our sustainer. We never take these steps alone. We make these confessions, we proclaim the Good News, and we call upon the spirit to help us be a blessing, in community. Today is the birthday of the Church and here at Christ and Trinity we are celebrating it with our confirmands in their commitment to carry on the love of Jesus through the fire of the Holy Spirit. I cannot think of a more fitting celebration!
Let us pray: Almighty God, on this day you opened the way of eternal life to every nation by the promised gift of your Holy Spirit: empower us to share this gift throughout the world by sharing the Gospel, that it may touch every heart through our witness; we ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen!