Sermon by Rev. Stephen R. Carnahan

“It’s always Pentecost”   

Acts 2

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Do you know what day this is?  And why it’s called Pentecost?

  • Fifty days.
  • Jewish festival of harvest, 50 days after Passover
  • Jesus—40 days stayed visible and present
  • Gave them instructions:  Wait for the Holy Spirit.
  • Ten days later it happened.
  • And that was 50 days.  Pentecost.

 

But what happened?

  • Something dramatic
  • Descriptions of wind and fire
  • And language!
    • Speaking or being heard?
  • Then the disciples go out into the streets and start preaching this:
    • That Jesus Christ was from God
    • And belief in him would save one from a foolish, meaningless life.
    • Save you from alienation from God and each other.
  • This has been considered the beginning of the Church.  The Ecclesia.  The ones who have been called.

 

But we should not think of this as the only Day of Pentecost.

  • It is always Pentecost.
  • The Holy Spirit came to people then.  And last year.  And yesterday. And right now.
  • The Holy Spirit is simply God moving among us.
  • Think of the Holy Spirit, perhaps, as the Spirit of Christ.
  • And that is how Christ is with us.
  • The Holy Spirit is always coming to us, always touching us with power and wisdom.
  • And it always has.
  • Through all the centuries the Holy Spirit has been enlightening and inspiring people and drawing them into a community of faith with others who are being touched by Christ.
  • I’m talking about Peter, John, Mary, Paul and Phoebe and the other apostles who planted the truth of Christ around the world.
  • I’m talking about Augustine and Thomas Aquinas and many other thinkers, teachers and writers who were inspired by the truth of Christ
  • I’m talking about Francis and Benedict who found a new way to think about life and faith.
  • I’m talking about Luther and Calvin and Wesley who dared to reform and reestablish the community of Christ and break the power of those distorted the Gospel of Christ
  • I’m talking about Hildegard of Bingham and St. Theresa of Avila and Mother Seton of Maryland
  • I’m talking about Harriot Beecher Stowe and Frederick Douglass,  Anne Hutchinson and Abraham Lincoln
  • I’m talking about Susan B Anthony, John Lewis, and Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • I’m talking about Annie Dillard and CS Lewis and Karen Armstrong.
  • I’m talking about Aunt Clara, my old Sunday School Teacher, and Stella who taught me about grace
  • I’m talking about Ed Muskie and Eleanor Roosevelt, Mohandas Ghandi, and you and you and you.

 

God’s Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ has infected people with truth, love, grace and compassion.

  • God is and always has been leading people that way.
  • The disciples had an explosion of understanding on that day of Pentecost
  • But for most of us the experience of the Holy Spirit is gentler and more subtle.
  • The disciples got wind and fire.  We are more likely to get a light breath of air and a dim ember.
  • But it matters.

 

What is the Holy Spirit doing?

 

  • It is leading you toward love.  It is the only direction the Holy Spirit moves.
  • It is whispering wisdom to you.  Maybe restraint.  Might just be that voice that tells you  to listen a little bit.
  • It is giving you courage.  It is enabling you to stand up against the powers that hold you or others down.  Have you felt thqt?  Have you felt that nudge.
  • The Holy Spirit is infusing us with compassion.  How could we say that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ if it didn’t lead us into compassion.
  • The Holy Spirit is taking away our prejudices and bigotries.
    • First thing the disciples did was go out into the streets and talk about Jesus to people who had gathered there from all around the world.
    • They began immediately to establish churches—communities of people who believed in Jesus.
    • And soon those communities expanded to include people of every race and nation.

Of course, we can resist all this.

  • Just as every day is Pentecost, every day can be Anti-Pentecost.
  • We can try to silence the voice of the Spirit with an angry reply.
  • We can go out into the streets with hatred or fear and pump them up until we can’t hear the spirits whisper.
  • We can become concerned only with ourselves and cease to work for the poor or the weak or the troubled.
  • We can try to turn off the compassion the Spirit is leading us to.
  • In other words, we can build sand castles on the beach and convince ourselves that they are so big and so strong that they will never be washed away.
  • But the wind and water carves and smooths the granite cliffs.  And your sand castle will come down.
  • The Holy Spirit will get through to you.

 

But why fight it?

  • The disciples on that first Pentecost realized they were to be witnesses for Jesus around the world.
  • We are also given that call—we are to be witnesses of Jesus.
  • We are to live lives that point others to love Jesus.
  • And the Holy Spirit is making us into that by deepening our love for others, and growing in us the fruits of the spirit—Love, Joy peace patience kindness gentleness goodness faithfulness self-control
  • Don’t you want those things in your life?  I do.
  • Here’s the Good News – The Spirit of Christ is here, among and within us, and is quietly, constantly prodding us toward all the beauty of Christ until is shines from our lives.