Pentecost Sunday – June 9, 2019
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
John 14:8-17 (25-27)
Wild wind, tongues of fire, visions, dreams, prophesies, noise…..these are the images of Pentecost. When the Spirit is poured out nothing is the same. Things are stirred up. Doors are unlocked. People are transformed. Can we see it?
We can replicate the sound of the wind and the image of fire, but Pentecost is not just a reenactment like the civil war re-enactments in Gettysburg of events that happened a long time ago. Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit will be with us always. Can we feel it?
God gave the prophet Joel words to speak: “I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh.” That means you and I today. The Spirit did not just descend on the disciples that first Pentecost, but is still descending on us today. The Spirit is giving us dreams with messages from God, visions of what God’s kingdom on earth can look like, prophecies to speak to each other and to those whom the Spirit calls us to speak. Do we hear them?
Do you still think that Pentecost is an event that happened long ago? Look again. The Spirit is still moving. The Spirit is still speaking. The Spirit is still working in the world. The Spirit is alive in this very place. Look around. We are all gathered here today because the Holy Spirit has called us from wherever we were to gather us together. Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered together there am I.” Jesus promised that he would be present among us and the Holy Spirit has brought us here. Some people may ask, “why? Why come together when I can just as easily think about Jesus and pray on my own?” Because something special happens when a group of Christians gather together to worship and praise God. All that praising, all that singing, all that praying together is a powerful force.
A single drop of water on its own is hardly noticeable, but a steady flow of water changes things. It forms gullies, rivers, lakes, and oceans. It changes the landscape. A single brush of color on a canvas hardly makes sense, but many strokes put together create a masterpiece that changes the way we see the world. A single letter on a page hardly can convey a message, but put those letters together and they form messages that can change a person’s life forever. And a group of disciples gathering together, sharing a common dream from God, working toward that vision creates an atmosphere where people can experience Jesus right here. The Holy Spirit is still moving among us.
Jesus said, “Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.” (John. 14:12) Greater works than Jesus? It seems unbelievable. How could we do greater works than Jesus who cured the sick, healed the lame, made the dead to rise again? Yet, if we read the Acts of the Apostles, which should really be entitled the Acts of the Holy Spirit, we will see that they in fact did perform great miracles. How? Because Jesus ascended to the Father and the Holy Spirit now came to live in them. And that same Holy Spirit lives in each one of us today. When we were baptized we were sealed by the Holy Spirit. Those weren’t just words. It really happened.
The Holy Spirit – the wind or breath of God -calls, gathers, enlightens and sends us forth into the world to be missionaries wherever we are. Each one of us is called and sent to share our experience of Jesus with others. Our lives are living gospels. What story are they telling? Are we sharing with others the wonderful things that God is doing in our lives? When we talk with people are we filled with excitement by the wonderful things that God has done for us? Are we moved to tears by just how real Jesus is in our lives and we don’t know where we would be without him? Are we so in love with Jesus that we can’t wait for others to hear about how fabulous he is and so we invite them to church to experience him for themselves? Or are we afraid to share our story? Like what happened to the early disciples, are we afraid people may think we are drunk because we are so passionate about sharing our experiences of Jesus with others?
What if people starting asking us, “What’s gotten into them?” What’s gotten into those disciples at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church – and that’s what we’re called to be, disciples of Jesus. Are we as on fire as the disciples that first Pentecost? Or have we lost the fire? We may think that Pentecost happened centuries ago, but the truth is Pentecost didn’t just happen once. It happens all the time. When’s the last time you experienced Pentecost? When will our next Pentecost be here at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church? When will we be so on fire with the Holy Spirit that people wonder what’s gotten into us? When will we be so busy doing mission and ministry that it seems like we are all crazy? The Holy Spirit calls us to do just that.
You might say, yes I believe, but we can’t cure people or raise them from the dead, or solve some of our most challenging problems. No, we can’t, but God can through the power of the Holy Spirit. So often we spend our days worrying, when we have a power among us greater than any force on earth! We have to believe in that power again! ”You will do greater works than these.” Those are exciting, yet somewhat scary words from Jesus because he is calling us to do all these things. Yet he says, “Be not afraid.” The Holy Spirit is powerful, but it is a power that we don’t have to be afraid of. It may mean that the Spirit will ask us to do things different than we’ve ever done them before, but God’s Holy Spirit always leads to life and that is nothing to fear.
I remember a few years ago I was cleaning up my yard in the fall and there was this rose bush that just looked dead. The flowers were dead and hard and there was no sign of life in it at all. I cut all the branches off and then cut it back until it was just a stub on the ground. Then I was going to dig it up. Well, I forgot about it and the next spring when I went back to clean up after the long snowy winter, there it was with fresh green leaves on it. I couldn’t believe it! This once dead bush had now come back to life. The winter was long and hard, and it took its toll on the plant, but something was happening underground – deep below the surface where it wasn’t evident. It was being transformed.
It’s like that for us as well. We can’t always see what is going on deep inside of us or see how God is working in a particular situation, but the Holy Spirit is working in us, at times, pruning us, letting what is not helpful to us die off and creating in us new life. New life can and will happen when the Holy Spirit is involved. New life can spring out of relationships that seem dead. New life can spring out of lives that are broken. New life can spring out of churches that need revival so they can be witnesses to the resurrection. The Holy Spirit is active as we are gathered together expectantly waiting for new life to appear in what once seemed dead. It’s never too late to begin again. We have to be open to dream dreams and see visions again. No matter what disappointments the past has brought, it’s time to dream again with hope and promise. And that can begin today as we experience Jesus among us.
Today and throughout this week pray to see and hear what God’s vision is for you and for this congregation. Pray that the Holy Spirit will open your heart to dream again, to hope again, and to believe in the possibilities again. Jesus said, “you will do greater things than these.” Believe these words of promise filled with the power of Pentecost. It’s here. May the love of Christ live in your hearts. May the winds of hope blow through you. May the fire of faith burn brightly. Come Holy Spirit! Amen.