the one about the spirit...
May 21, 2018, 8:00 AM

Sermon from the Day of Pentecost - May 20, 2018

Text: Ezekiel 37:1-14 & Acts 2:1-21

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’ve noticed something interesting throughout our texts these past few weeks as we have arrived on this particular day of celebration. You see, our texts these past few weeks have led us to this day of celebration, but from opposite directions. Our Gospel texts have shared the words of our Lord as he speaks about the future to come. Our texts from Acts speak of how that future and ‘new normal’ has been and continues to be.

These past few weeks, we have heard Jesus bring that assuring word of comfort to his disciples (and to each of us). Promising that things are going to be alright for he is alive. He breathes, he can be held, he eats, he prays, he promises a helper.

The Book of Acts (and how we have been reading them) has shown us how that ‘helper’ continues to grow and expand what is the kingdom of God. More and more are included; the Spirit has moved through many thought to be those God would never be with. We’ve heard from a eunuch, we’ve seen God declare that which is clean (though the world has said it was not), we’ve been witness to the Spirit moving and speaking through those outside the ‘normal’ life of faith.

The Gospel readings the last few weeks have been leading us to this moment and day. Acts has helped us trace back to this moment and day.

And here we are. The celebration of the Holy Spirit unleashed on the world. We get to celebrate this day with one another and the entire church universal. We get to celebrate this day with six young men and women who complete their confirmation studies. We get to host the community of Newberry Academy and Newberry High School later this afternoon at the annual Baccalaureate Service. We continue to move through how we faithfully respond to the generous abundance gifted to this community of faith.

We stand this day at the beginning of a long road before us. We stand on the precipice of this day and celebration of God’s continued action in the world and we ask the same questions we did the day after the discovery of the empty tomb. What now? How do we move forward? Where do we go from here?

We stand and continue to walk this road on this journey in the life of faith. We stand and walk with those who are affirming their faith this day. Together we remember our baptisms with them and God’s promise and love in and with us. We walk with them.

We stand and walk with those who are celebrating the completion of one chapter in their life as they celebrate their graduations from high school. We walk and guide those who get on this path as they transition into a fuller picture of adulthood in our community.

We stand and walk with one another as we make decisions on how best to live faithfully into this incredible gift of abundance. What ministries can open up to us that we never thought possible before? Where can we support those in need – those we know and those we have yet to meet? Where and how can we model good stewardship for this community of faith and for those in the greater community?

Each of those roads we are on – and all the others we individually walk – can have the dreaded question creep into our mind, ‘is it worth it? What do I get out of this?’

For you six who affirm their faith today, I know that question has wandered into your mind because it wandered into mine, and your parents, and every person who has been in your shoes. It is a question that continually crops up in some of the weirdest and most vulnerable moments in our lives.

The world and the loud voices of faith around us like to make us believe that this life of faith stuff is easy. That if you just believe and follow the path that others before you took – never straying from the lane; or believe in the ‘right’ way – then this life of faith will be a walk in the park. You’ll of course be able to live into the promises you affirm this day.

Hopefully, you remember our last class two weeks ago. Unfortunately, the life of faith doesn’t work like that. The promises you make this day will not be easy. Sure, some are easier than others, but as a whole, they are promises that we all struggle to live into. We, individually and as a community, fall short of those promises time and time again, sometimes we outright break and walk or run from those promises.

Yet, what we celebrate this day is God’s spirit breathed into and unleashed on the world. We celebrate that breath that gives life to the old dusty bones of our lives, fills us with life and faith, so that we can walk this path before us.

What you affirm today is that you hope to live into those promises said over your baptism. In that hope and promise, you affirm that you’ll cling to and hold on to the promise that God will help and guide you. You acknowledge that this life of faith is not one that you can do alone. It isn’t one that anyone can do alone. But, we strive, we struggle, and we journey together as the kingdom of God.

You’ve come to this moment not by your lonesome, but because your parents and families have walked with you to this moment. You’ve been surrounded by the saints of this congregation, you’ve been nudged along the way by people you know well and people who you still don’t know all that well. You’ve been taught, you have taught us, we have lived and walked this path of faith together.

You’ve been guided to this moment by the Spirit – the one who does know you completely. The one who does hold you tight and breathes life into your bones. Who has breathed life into all our bones.

You are here, because we’ve come this far and set out further together. The journey before each of you and the journey we all take together is not one we venture off into alone, but it is one that we travel with companions, friends, and more. The Holy Spirit guides us together, opening our eyes, shattering our notions of community, and continually forming and molding us in our faith.

This same Spirit is the one who fills this space with song and voice in our community. The same Spirit brings us together to celebrate accomplishments even in the midst of our moans and groans. As this place will be filled this afternoon as parents, families, and friends get to see their loved ones dressed in their graduation gowns walk this aisle. They’ll hear the word of God and the message that they are not alone as well. They will be surrounded by the community here. Many won’t know one another, but we all celebrate with them and the future that God holds them in and walks them through.

As a congregation and community of faith, we walk this road before us as we faithfully respond to the gifts we have been given. The Holy Spirit breathes into us that hope and promise of proclamation and truth. The Spirit guides us in the ways that are faithful, and seemingly scary because of the size of this gift.

As we walk all of these paths before us. We do so together. Whether you are affirming your faith this day, whether you are celebrating your graduation, whether you are wondering where God might be leading this community in ministry – we walk this life of faith, breathed into by the Holy Spirit of God, together.

As we walk there will be moments and questions of ‘why, and how, and when?’ But the thing that we will fall back on is not what we have done, not relying on our intellect, our skills, our knowledge. But falling into and clinging to the trust that God is present in this. Having faith that we are not alone in these decisions. Having hope that the Spirit still moves and breathes within us, within these walls, and throughout this community.

That the Spirit that so burst upon the world that Day of Pentecost so long ago is still alive and active today here in this place and in each of us. Breathing us into life, moving us into the unknown, being present with us the entire way.

We are not alone in this, and we have never been. The road is long, but we travel it together. Not just with one another, but with God right by us, right in us, right before us leading the way.

That is the work of the Holy Spirit. That is the celebration of this day. Amen.


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