the one about breath and wind...
June 5, 2017, 9:00 AM

Sermon from June 4, 2017
Day of Pentecost

Texts: Acts 2: 1-21 and John 20: 19-23

Grace and peace to you from God our Creator and our Risen Lord Jesus who is the Christ. Will y’all pray with me? May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer; amen!

So, I don’t love this day just because it has one of my favorite ‘funny’ verses in all of scripture. Where Peter tells those making snide comments around him that these disciples and followers of Jesus are NOT acting in a drunken stupor, because its only 9am. Peter of course must not have ever lived near a college campus. No, I love this day because this is truly one of the most important days and celebrations of our lives of faith. This Day of Pentecost, unfortunately, is not celebrated nor does it garner as much attention as Easter or Christmas, though it is right up there in that echelon of feast days.

As you listened to the readings this morning you might have noticed that we get ‘bookended’ with a text that we heard the Second Sunday of Easter in our gospel reading this morning. Of course – the focus during the second Sunday of Easter was on the reassurance of those disciples that there is no need to be in fear because Christ is alive – Jesus brings peace.

This morning, while we still hear and welcome that reassurance from our Lord – our emphasis is on Jesus breathing. Now, the NRSV that we read from translates verse 22 as Jesus breathing on the disciples, but another and perhaps more correct translation would be that Jesus breathes into the disciples. In the original Greek, it can be translated both ways.

Doesn’t that change how we view and interpret this text? Jesus breathes into them and says – receive the Holy Spirit. When, I hear of that action I think of how when someone stops breathing how we perform CPR. Along with those chest compressions you give rescue breaths into their body. You give those in need air from your own body to help move their lungs – all in the hopes of bringing signs of life back into them.

Here our Lord sees that out of fear and trepidation his disciples and friends are ‘locked away.’ They are not living in their called life, in many ways they are ‘dead.’ So, Jesus breathes the Spirit into them. Giving them new life. New life and hope to live into and proclaim the resurrected life of Christ.

Scripturally, this directly connects what Jesus is doing to what God did to the a-dam in Genesis during creation. God breathed life into the first of creation. Filling them with God’s breath.

Through his own breath Jesus is gifting the Holy Spirit– the one whom Jesus has promised will come – to his friends and followers.

In our reading from Acts we see a wider gifting of the Holy Spirit as we read of a group of individuals who see tongues of flame upon one another’s foreheads and they begin to speak about God – they prophesy. Those around them are awestruck as they hear this group speak in their own native tongues. It is a miracle of hearing.

This group is brought together as one – but retains their own culture and that which makes them unique within God’s good creation.

This is one of the most fascinating and awesome things about our faith history. This is the birth of the church; the faithful gathered in Christ’s name.

Unfortunately, I continue to hear from so many sources that believe that you’re only the ‘true church’ or only a ‘true anything’ when you act, look, speak, and believe like the ‘true’ ones around you. That if you aren’t ‘like us’ then you are not ‘one of us.’

One of the ways that people ‘distinguish’ if you’re ‘one of us’ and a part of the ‘true church’ is how the Spirit manifests itself in your life.

I remember watching the movie Jesus Camp (have y’all seen that documentary? It is a fascinating yet, at times incredibly troubling and sad depiction of theological life in our country). One of the young girls in the documentary railed against ‘quiet’ churches as being ‘dead’ or without the Spirit. In her opinion and the formation of belief in which she had been raised – if your church isn’t hopping, screaming, dancing, and being ecstatic with the Spirit you weren’t really ‘church.’ She expresses that those churches (that look and sound like ours) are ‘dead’ and where the Holy Spirit is not present. Instead, you always hav to be ‘up.’ Anything ‘down’ or ‘quiet’ was bad and non-spiritual.

Just so y’all know – one of the quickest ways to upset your pastor is to state the spirit isn’t ‘present’ in this place (or any place) because it reveals itself ‘differently’ than somewhere else. The Spirit is alive and well within this place and all places.

The Spirit’s job in ‘unifying’ us as one isn’t done in such a way that we all speak the same language – act the same way – or look the same as everyone else.

We are not a ‘melting pot.’

We are not melted down to our base parts and molded into similar shapes like everyone else. Instead, the Spirit uses us and expresses itself differently in each of us as we come together in praising God and Christ in our own unique ways and flavors. Our reading from First Corinthians helps emphasize that quite a bit.

I like to think that in the body of Christ we are more like a salad. Having a salad of just lettuce doesn’t seem all that appetizing – at least not to me. Having a salad of just tomatoes ceases to really be a salad. However, when you continue adding in additional parts it helps bring out so many wonderful flavors. Salad, spinach, onions, tomatoes, cheese, dressing, and more all add to the salad and help make it more full, rich, and whole. Sometimes, you receive a salad and it contains items that you initially don’t like – carrots, cucumbers, arugula – yet they are there because they are good for you and they help enrich the entire flavor of the salad. Further bringing out the richness and fuller taste of that meal.

In the body of Christ, we can have those who clap, raise hands, and yell amen next to those who pray mightily and fervently with their head down, seated next to the ones with their eyes closed as they absorb the act of worship and presence of the Spirit around them.

The Spirit that we are gifted is a beautiful and wonderful part of our lives. That Spirit which guides and helps us to discern God’s presence around us and in us. That Spirit that has been poured into us and breathed into us as the words of the Trinity were said above us and upon us in our baptisms.

Each of us gets to bring our own uniqueness into the Body of Christ to help all of us celebrate more fully and completely and passionately to our God. We get to live out and live into the Spirit that dwells in us through our whole lives – here at Redeemer; out in the community of Newberry; within each of our vocations; shown through all that we do at work, play, and in private. The Spirit dwells in us and moves us in our faith throughout all of our life and all aspects of our life.

We get to look at one another and see this wonderful body of Christ and share in the gifts, quirkiness, and beauty of all around us. Coming together in beautiful chaos as one in praise, thanksgiving, and service to God. All because Jesus breathed into us. All through that loud rushing wind of the Spirit on that Day of Pentecost thousands of years ago. The Spirit isn’t just around us and beside us. The Spirit of God dwells within each of us.

Today we celebrate that. Today we leave from this place with faith and hope. Knowing that whatever we do – God is present with us. That wherever we go – God is present with us. The Spirit has been breathed into each of us, bringing us to life. The Spirit moves through us to serve God and serve all our neighbors.

Gathering us together as one body, working and struggling together to live into and to live out those promises we’ve made in baptism – to live among God’s faithful people, hear the word of God and share in the Lord’s supper, proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed, to serve all people – following the example of Jesus, and to strive for justice and peace in all the earth.

We get to do that. The Holy Spirit has been breathed and rushed into us so that we can do that. We do this all together, gathered as one, in our own unique and beautiful ways. Amen.

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