Pastor's Sermons

Sermon for Day of Pentecost ~ May 24, 2015

Acts 2:1-21

Look at all the red out there…the colour of parties…the colour of passion, fire, stop signs and emergency vehicles, and in the church it’s the colour for the Day of Pentecost.  In our culture, red cries out: STOP and look, CLEAR THE WAY! It’s the colour of life, of blood just beneath the skin, of the hearts of all of us…

 

This day celebrates the Spirit of God doing something wonderful — showing us where God is in this confusing world of ours.

 

Pentecost — the 50th day after a week of weeks

 

The story takes place during the Festival of the Weeks (after the week of weeks), on the 50th day after Passover (Good Friday) — called Pentecost.  It was a day when the giving of the Law through Moses was remembered.  Jerusalem was buzzing. People from all around the Mediterranean gathered.  No regular work was done.  It was like a long Thanksgiving weekend.  Special events at the Temple took place; and activity filled the streets. BBQs were going, sidewalk cafes were open, street vendors were out, children were playing… and then a strange commotion came from one of the houses.

 

The 12 disciples and others were together in the cool of the morning and like a sudden breeze or a summer wildfire, the spirit of God joins them  unexpectedly and other people begin to relate.  God stirred this up.  Did they speak in other languages they already knew, or did the spirit simply move through them in a mysterious way?  How did the spirit get your attention?  From someone with a common background, culture, language or interest?  Or just some kind of mysterious connection?

 

We do ourselves a disservice by thinking that we have all the answers for everything. There is still mystery in our world. The mystery of meeting someone you haven’t seen for a long time; the mystery of kindness coming when you didn’t expect it; the mystery of faith that whispers to your heart and tells you that God is taking care of you.

 

Message & Symbol

 

This story is rich with the symbolism of wind and fire.  Wind and spirit are the same word in Hebrew.  And we can recall Moses with the burning bush of God’s presence.  The story tells us: “Stop and look and listen — like the others.  God is doing something.  God is always doing something.  The spirit of Christ is trying to get your attention. God’s marvellous love is for you!”

 

People on the street certainly perked up that morning.  They gathered along the fence hearing their own languages in an unexpected place.  And they didn’t understand why they understood.

Some thought the disciples had been drinking — but it wasn’t so.  They wondered what hearing about God like this meant.  We would wonder the same thing.

 

There are lots of messages about God out there.  The other day I came home to find tracts stuffed into the crack of my front door together with the business card of some evangelist.  It went into the recycling.  Even if I met the people at the door, I probably wouldn’t take them seriously because I don’t relate, they want to talk rather than listen; and they are often looking for some lonely or broken person to sweep up into a following.  Others come down the street in pairs, sometimes with a child in front of them as they knock on the door.  There are TV shows with smiley hosts, glorious God-talk and flawless music.  But I don’t relate.

 

One year at my parish in Saskatoon, we hand delivered 5000 brochures introducing our mission church to our part of the city.  Most were dropped in mailboxes, but some people were home — gruffly taking the brochure and closing the door or saying they weren’t interested.  A few lonely people invited me in, a Jehovah’s Witness couple tried to convert me, and one fellow who was sitting on the steps watering his seeded lawn was curious and because I listened to him, and eventually his family joined the church. There are lots of messages about God out there.  How does any of it relate?

 

Does Pentecost mean God wants to be close to us?  Does the faith of another mean that God can understand us?  Does it mean that God is with us n this world?  Maybe Pentecost means that we don’t have to have everything figured out, that God is simply present to accompany us in life –- whatever it holds.

 

Mysterious and miraculous events in the story point us to something.  God is present… God is still present.  When Jesus ascended (Acts 1:11), the angels told the disciples, “He will return in the same way that you saw him go.”  That is: among his people, full of love and promise.  Pentecost is almost like Christmas, but this time Christ takes on the flesh and blood of his people.

 

Pentecost: Another Incarnation

 

Christ returned in the spirit of Pentecost.  It’s the spirit that gives us courage, that helps us move forward, that teaches us to sing, to trust God, to learn to love one another, to help when others won’t, to care when others don’t. 

 

It’s not surprising that Jesus calls the spirit the advocate. It means: a helper, the one who “comes along side.”   Where is that help in our world today… not just the talk, but the help?   The spirit of Christ helps. Where is the spirit today?  Look where the help is.  There we will find the same spirit that fills the people of God, called the body of Christ.

 

We are the flesh and blood of Christ that meets the world again today.  The spirit is among us blowing and burning and stirring and leading… Anytime we reach beyond ourselves, offer help, listen, share an encouraging word, assist others to trust God in their trouble…. the spirit is at work.

 

Pentecost reminds us who we are: God’s people — the body of Christ.  It reminds us that our voices and lives bring Good News.  And Pentecost reminds us that Christ is alive among us, whatever our background, age, or story.  The love of Christ blows, burns and speaks to all.

 

It’s like the red that is everywhere among us!

 

Lord, take our minds and think through them, take our hands and work through them, take our hearts and set them on fire. 

 

Amen.

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