John 14:8-17, 25-27
8 Philip said to Jesus, “Lord, show us God, and we will be satisfied.” 9 Jesus said to Philip, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen God. How can you say, ‘Show us God’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in God and God is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but it is God who dwells in me who does these works. 11 Have faith in me that I am in God and God is in me; but if you do not, then have faith in me because of the works themselves. 12 Very truly, I tell you, the one who trusts in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to God. 13 I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that God may be glorified in the Son. 14 If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.
15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask God, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. 17 This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees nor knows that Spirit. You know that Spirit, because that Spirit abides with you, and will be in you.
25 “I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom God will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”
Please pray with me this morning, church:
Move in this place.
Stir our hearts, rouse us from complacency.
Settle over us with your comfort and peace.
Move in us, again, this morning.
Call us, enlighten us, and move us.
I want to start by saying thank you, church. Last week was a difficult week. For all of us. No one wants to see and experience what we collectively went through last week. But if we are to be stirred in our hearts and in our spirits to create meaningful change in our world, we must be honest about the brokenness, hurt, and pain in our world, we must be willing to look at and not look away from that hurt. It is by beholding the wounds of our siblings and honoring their hurt that our own hearts are broken open for the Spirit to do their work in stirring and rousing us to action.
So thank you. I know it wasn’t easy, and I pray it never becomes easy for us. But I do hope and pray fervently for the day when sermons like last week’s, and prayers and litanies for victims of gun violence are no longer needed.
In the liturgical wisdom of the early church mothers and fathers, the Day of Pentecost comes 10 days after the Feast of the Ascension, 50 days after the celebration of Christ’s resurrection. After Jesus is taken away from the disciples, their instructions are to return to Jerusalem and wait for the arrival of the Holy Spirit, which indeed does arrive as we heard in our readings this morning. This is the beginning of the church movement, the beginning of the ministry instituted by Jesus that begins from Jerusalem and then spreads into Judea and Syria and the surrounding areas, and then through the mission and ministry of the earliest apostles—Peter, Paul, Silas, Tabitha, Thomas, Apollos, Lydia, and so many others—the church spreads beyond that, into modern-day Turkey, Iraq, Egypt, Greece, and even into Italy and Rome. And the Holy Spirit is the driving force of this movement.
I’ve found it helpful to try and understand the Holy Spirit as that which moves me, that which propels me, in the work of discipleship that I’ve been called to by God through my baptism.
Once more…for me, I’ve found it helpful to try and understand the Holy Spirit as that which moves me, that which propels me, in the work of discipleship that I’ve been called to by God through my baptism.
The Holy Spirit is an active, moving force. It inspires, it enlightens, it mediates between people. It’s the Holy Spirit that draws God’s people together, and is active in their midst, mediating their conversations and discernment, and ultimately propelling them out into the world to be the people God has called them to be through their baptism.
I lament that we don’t have more days celebrating this movement and the activity of this holy troublemaker. Because let’s be honest…the Spirit…she can be a troublemaker…
We set apart this Day of Pentecost with our red paraments—which, it should be noted, are different than our scarlet paraments that we use for Holy Week—and I suppose I’m grateful that, at least in the Lutheran tradition, we also bring out these same red paraments for Reformation Sunday in October, but I lament that we only get 2 Sundays of red paraments because it means I only get 2 Sundays to wear my red stole. And I love my red stole because it was gifted to me at my ordination, as are most pastors’ red stoles, and I would just like to wear it more often. So if the liturgical powers that be would get to work on that, I’d be appreciative.
But it does strike me as highly appropriate to so closely align the Reformation with Pentecost because the Reformation, too, was and is about the movement of the Spirit among communities, the drawing together of God’s people, and the spread of the Gospel message throughout and beyond Germany and Europe. The Reformation was about finding something central and true amidst a wide diversity of expression within the church.
Pentecost, too, I think, is about something central, true, and universal in the midst of great diversity. Like we heard in our reading from Acts, the Spirit loves diversity, the Spirit births diversity. Can we see and view and honor that diversity in our faith communities as a gift and something to be celebrated, rather than something to be overcome or argued about, or at worst, glossed over and assimilated?
“All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit gave them ability.”
What “other languages” has God given New Hope to speak? Think beyond the wide diversity of spoken languages you’ve heard already heard and will hear this morning. Hasn’t God given New Hope the gifts of language, or the ability to speak the language, from other communities as well—the gay and lesbian community, the trans* community, the queer and questioning community, the LGBTQIA2+ community broadly…(Happy Pride, by the way, beloveds)…communities of color, the African descent community, the Latino community, the South American community, the community of South Asian descent…the neurodivergent community, those in the communities of mental illness, the community of parents, grandparents, the community of parents who struggle with infertility…divorced folks, single folks, the cancer community, the alcoholic community, the recovery community—we have so many gifts, so many different languages that are spoken here, beyond just spoken languages.
I think the question of Pentecost is how to honor all of those gifts, how to lift them up and celebrate them. Can we see our giftedness as cause and reason for celebration and excitement and something to be witnessed to and something to invite others to experience?
The Spirit of Pentecost is one of witness and testimony and invitation. The Spirit gave the disciples the ability to say something true about God…something true about what they had experienced in the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus…gave the disciples a way to speak and witness and testify to that truth in a way that others could hear it and receive it.
“We hear all of them in our own languages. We hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.”
What has God done in your life, church? How has God blessed and enriched your life and your family’s life as a result of experiencing the giftedness of New Hope?
This same Spirit of truth and love and equality and justice is alive and active and moving in this place. Where do you see the Spirit at work? How will you witness to what you’ve seen and experienced?
The Spirit moves and invites you to extend the invitation.
An incredibly overwhelming majority of people visit a church and a community of faith because someone they know, someone the trust, someone they have a relationship with invited them. Even if they’ve already got a worshiping community they’re a part of, most folks will take you up on the invitation to join them. (Especially if you tell them that you’ll take them out for brunch afterward…)
The Spirit loves diversity.
The Spirit births diversity.
Your beautifully designed, colorful tapestry, rainbow of diversity is a gift.
To me. To the church.
And to God.
Listen and look for the Spirit, church.
She’s moving. They’re moving. Mightily.