the one where the Holy Spirit shows up...
May 16, 2016, 9:00 AM

Day of Pentecost - May 15, 2016

Text: Acts 2: 1-21

Grace and peace to you from God our Creator and our Lord Jesus who is the risen and ascended Christ!  Will y’all pray with me? Let 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!

What a great day this is! I love the season of Pentecost. I love the imagery of Pentecostal fire, the image of refining fire, the fire of glass blowing, the fire of the Holy Spirit. I love that we deck the church out in red on this day. I love that I get to wear this stole – a stole given to me at my ordination – because I really only get to wear it on Pentecost Sunday, Reformation Sunday, and any other ordinations I’m honored and lucky to attend.

This is a fun day! This is the birthday of the church. It really is. It is here that the people of God who followed the Way of Christ gathered together and began to proclaim Christ and the work of God in different languages. They were overcome by something like a rushing wind and what was like tongues of flame upon their foreheads. I think this is a really cool story and moment in the birth of the Church of Christ – and not just because Peter excuses the odd behavior of those gathered because it is too early for them to be ‘filled with new wine’ and instead recognizes and declares that they have been touched and inspired by the Holy Spirit. Someone obviously has never lived in a college town to understand that 9am isn’t always too early for some…

These gathered in Jerusalem that day were filled with God’s Spirit and compelled to speak in all known languages about the work of God. This is the work of the Holy Spirit.  L’Esprit Saint.  Der Heilige Geist.   Lo Spirito Santo.

What amazes me most is that this is the moment that those who followed Christ felt compelled and called to proclaim Jesus in all aspects of their life. It is here that the work of the Spirit fully guides and is present with those to live into all that Jesus taught, foretold, and proclaimed. It is this interesting and crazy event of people speaking and hearing in a multitude of languages that inspires people to be willing to die for what they believe.

It wasn’t the last supper. It wasn’t the numerous miracles that Jesus performed and pointed to God through. It wasn’t even the resurrection.

It was this moment. This moment of many gathered in Jerusalem who start talking and shouting and proclaiming God’s work. Those around them heard them in their own native tongues – languages that those speaking wouldn’t have known or perhaps even have heard. This is the powder keg moment of the life of faith that explodes in Jerusalem and in which today we are still feeling the fallout.

The Holy Spirit rushes upon us like a strong wind ever blowing through the sails of the church that are her people. The Holy Spirit is there to guide and point God’s people to Christ’s presence among and in us. The Holy Spirit is here to remind us of all that Jesus has taught us. The Holy Spirit is that which enwraps our hearts and directs our bodies to God and our ministries to the world in ways that we cannot explain. This fire of the Holy Spirit is here to let our hearts burn ever so brightly, strong, and hot for God that we are –refined – reformed –re-oriented – again and again towards God. The Holy Spirit is that presence of God among us reminding us of the promise, the sacrifice, and the gift of what God has done for us in Jesus Christ. And our response to the presence of the Holy Spirit is to shout in thanksgivings and praise – even when others might not understand what’s going on. The work of the Holy Spirit is that which knocks us sideways to proclaim Christ to the world.

The Pentecostal event that we hear and celebrate today is not one that anyone would expect. When we think of the Holy Spirit moving through people, we like to think of the ‘A-Team’ those stalwart men and women of faith who were moved to do wonderful things in the life of the church. People like Peter, Paul, Martin Luther, St. Francis, Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King, Jr., and many, many, many more. We think of them as superstars – learned individuals, deeply and truly faithful folks.

Yet, when we really look at it – Jesus doesn’t necessarily call on the Avengers to take up the cross. God certainly didn’t in this story of Pentecost that we read today. Those speaking today aren’t sophisticated and learned individuals – at least not in the way we would describe. They more than likely didn’t know the languages that people heard them speaking. They were just simple, ordinary, down-to-earth folks – Just like you and me – who were filled with the Spirit to proclaim God to the world.

God showed up in this unique and one-time way and it changed everything.

In this moment, God knocked creation sideways and from that we are here today.

Think about that for a moment – because of this event the church is birthed. Some have described this as the large rock dropped into the middle of a still pond and the ripples are being sent out today. I like to think it much more as if a nuclear bomb of faith went off. It exploded in this event of Pentecost and the fallout is still being felt today. That fallout of faith that covers everything in our lives – pointing to the one who caused it all – the one who out of love has freed us from sin and death in his victory on the cross and in the empty tomb.

The Holy Spirit is amazing. Our guide. Our helper. Our advocate. The one who Jesus sent to remind us all of what and who Jesus is, but also to remind us of who and whose we are. That we are God’s.

Most importantly the Holy Spirit is that which moves us – where we are literally blown as if by a mighty wind to new and unexpected places of ministry. That in those moments they’ll knock us sideways.

This day, as we listen to the words and this music all inspired by the Holy Spirit how will you be moved? How and where will you and this community of faith here at Redeemer and in Newberry be moved to those unexpected places of ministry? Where is the fire of the Spirit refining us as a community journeying with and for Christ?

The Holy Spirit has wrapped her fire and wind around each of us – refining us and blowing us about in this church and community of faith to see God’s work in our lives and at work around us and reminding us that each and every last one of us are prophets to proclaim the mighty acts of God. 

Y’all – God is here for you. The Holy Spirit is present among us. Christ dwells inside us. Where is the spirit blowing you and setting your heart on fire today? Tomorrow? Next week? Where is the spirit blowing you to proclaim and live out this faith and gift that is from God?

This is a great day to remember, where we remember the birth of the church that the Holy Spirit blew to unexpected places. It is also a great day to be reminded that the Spirit continues to push us to minister to the places and people who we probably wouldn’t want to or expect. Where in those unexpected places we again and again see the ministry of God at work in us and among those who we are called to as we are knocked sideways by this wily Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit brings us to mission and redemption for the world. We may not know what that looks like fully, but it is for everyone. The church is blown to different places so that all might know that God’s grace is for everyone. Amen.

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