Sermon The Day of Pentecost May 20, 2018

Acts 2:1-21                 Psalm 104:25-35        Romans 8:22-27

             John 15:26-27, 16:4b-15

May these words and our thoughts be acceptable to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Seven weeks have passed since Easter.  Take a moment and think of all the things that have happened to you in that time.  Now think about the experiences the first Christians had during that same time.  The Resurrection;  frankly that would have been enough excitement for me for all seven weeks and more.  But the disciples had more encounters with the Risen Saviour;  He walked with them;  He ate with them;  twice He came amongst them when they were gathered in fear for their lives;  He had breakfast on the beach with them;  He gathered them together on a mountain, gave them what was to be His final instructions for their life’s mission, and ours too, and Ascended, before their eyes, into the realms of Heaven.  How much more could they take ?  They gathered together on this fiftieth day, a Jewish harvest festival, and then came a rushing of wind about their heads, with great noise, as I wrote this the hairs on the back of my neck stood up, and then the Holy Spirit, like tongues of fire settled on their heads.  The power in the room, was awesome, stuff whirling about in the air, they turned around and around and held on to each other for support, was this the end of the world ?  Would they be consumed by the fire ?  What in the world was happening ?  The sound of the wind was added to by their own cries of fear and wonderment.  Wow !  That’s some seven weeks but it is not over.  They are overtaken by a power beyond their control and spew out words they don’t understand to the people around them, who miraculously do.  The drama is intense.  But like every good party there are killjoys, who don’t believe the evidence of their own eyes.  Don’t worry they will eventually come round.

So the Holy Spirit in this great manifestation came calling.  The Holy Spirit is a part of our Triune God, just as much as your spirit is a part of you, after all we are created in God’s image.  We have bodies, so does God in the Person of Jesus Christ.  We have our minds, intelligence and character, so does God in the Person of the Father.  We have our spirits the part of us that motivates us to do things and to know the difference between right and wrong, so does God in the Person of the Holy Spirit.  It goes without saying that God always knew the difference between right and wrong.  We initially weren’t intended to know the difference between right and wrong so when we upset the apple cart under the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil we upset the beautiful world order that God had created.

The Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples and added to their existing human spirits.  Then they were purified and sanctified and inspired just as we are at our Baptisms.  When we are baptized with the Holy Spirit we become different people, just as those first disciples became different people.  We don’t have the same manifestation, I doubt we could stand it, but it happens inwardly any way.

Through the power of the Holy Spirit, as Jesus says, we have a new understanding of sin, righteousness and judgement.  Some other religions, even societies, don’t believe that Sin exists.  All behaviour being what they consider to be natural cannot be sinful in nature.  Others believe Sin only exists within their own group, so it’s ok to do harm to those who don’t belong to their group.  Sin, we understand, to be all actions and thoughts not sanctioned by God’s Word.  But we are to go beyond that.  Whereas others may not lift a finger in anger, they inexplicably will often not lift it to help either.  We know that isn’t right, which leads us to a new understanding of righteousness.  Not only do we believe in  ‘do no harm’, we believe in providing help.  Look at the number of charitable acts done by the Church.  It is obvious that this mindset was started by God the Father, expanded upon by Jesus and nurtured in us by the Holy Spirit.

Then comes Judgment.  From the earliest time judgment has meant that  “you shall not render an unjust judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great:  with justice you shall judge your neighbour”  (Leviticus 19:15)  an early form of the Rule of Law.  Jesus did just that as Isaiah prophesied  “The spirit of the LORD shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.  His delight shall be in the fear of the LORD.  He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear;  but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;  (Isaiah 11:2-4a).  The Spirit rests on us too.  We are cautioned about judging others  (Matthew 7:1,2)  because we will be held accountable for our judgements.  It is surely impossible to go through life without judging people, situations, actions and things.  It is therefore essential for us to make careful judgements.  That doesn’t happen on many occasions or in societies.  Judgements are often self-serving and are contrary to the Christian way.  So we definitely need to call upon the Holy Spirit, in prayer to show us the right way that’s why He came, He is the Advocate for justice.  With honesty pray about the situation, defer to other than your personal preference, if the other way becomes the righteous way.

Let us pray.  Come Holy Spirit and renew the face of the Earth.  Grant us the power to discern sin, act righteously and judge equitably and thereby help to usher in your perfect Kingdom.  Amen and Alleluia.

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