Sermon: May 31, 2009

1 06 2009

When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf. You also are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning.

 

“I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. but now I am going to him who sent me; yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts. Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because they do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned. I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

 

                                                John 15:26-27; 16:4-15

 

 

 

            Today is known as The Feast of the Pentecost.  Or as most Christians call it, “Pentecost Sunday.”  Most of you knew that.  What most of you probably didn’t know is that Pentecost was original a Jewish Festival.  It was originally celebrated as Shavuot and then later had its named changed to Pentecost.  It occurred 50 days after the beginning of Passover and was originally an agricultural festival.  The purpose of Shavuot or Pentecost was to give thanks to God for the first harvest. 

            Now in Christian circles did you know that this was the first festival to be celebrated by Christians.  Long before there was an Easter celebration.  Long before there was a Christmas celebration.  There was Pentecost.  In fact Pentecost as a celebration of the church is first mentioned in the Book of Acts – Acts 20:16:

Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus to avoid spending time in the province of Asia, for he was in a hurry to reach Jerusalem, if possible, by the day of Pentecost

 

And then again in St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians:

 

But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost,

 

So this day seems to have been important to the early Christians.  But why?

            Well, I think that it was more than just remembering a day on which something special happened.  The Book of Acts tells us that on that first Pentecost the disciples were sitting in the upper room where they had last celebrated the Passover with Jesus before they had gone off to the Garden of Gethsemane.  They were there still trying to figure out what their next step should be.  When all of a sudden the room began to shake like they were in the middle of a violent earthquake.  And then flames began to appear over the heads of all the disciples.  And then they could speak in all kinds of different languages.  And then they felt compelled to go out of that room and meet the people who had gathered around the building where they were.  And suddenly these people who had been afraid to be seen in broad daylight for fear that they would be arrested for their association with the Jesus.  Suddenly there they were outside telling everyone they met about this Jesus.  From that moment they scattered to the four corners of the world telling everyone they met about this Jesus.

            Now that is a great story.  But you know I don’t think that that is why we celebrate Pentecost today.  It is often called the Birthday of the Church.  But again I don’t think that that is why we celebrate Pentecost today.  I think that we celebrate Pentecost today because it is a reminder to us all that God is with us – always – even until the end of time.

            We live in a world that is fraught with many dangers.  Living in these economic times if we still have a job, we wonder how secure it is.  If we were planning to retire, we wonder if we still can as we watch IRA’s and Pension Plans dry up and disappear.  If we were planning to send our kids to college, we wonder how much is still left in those funds that we had set aside.

            We live in a world where relationships are so hard to maintain.  Friendships seem so temporary and those that last a life time seem rarer.  Statistics tell us that 1 out every 2 marriages today will fail.

            It seems like every time we turn on the news that we hear about some new illness – some new disease that threatens our well being.  What is actually is Swine Flu?  Or maybe we don’t have to worry about Swine Flu what will global warming – what with so many crazy dictators getting a hold of  nuclear weapons or developing biological agents that can  silently kill millions.

            We live in a world that is filled with so much uncertainty.  Into this world comes Pentecost that tells us that we are not alone.  God is with His people.  Pentecost tells us that God Himself came down to this world.  He not only filled that room on the first Pentecost.  He not only filled those first disciples.  He fills our world also.  God is with His people.  God is with us.

            One writer put it this way:

In any case, what seems clear is that Pentecost represents God’s gracious, enabling presence actively at work among His people, calling and enabling them to live out in dynamic ways the witness of being His people.

 

Pentecost is God’s way of telling us that we are not alone.  As you face these terribly uncertain economic times, “Lo, I am with you always…”  As you see friendships and relationships fade away, “Lo, I am with you always…”  As you struggle with the uncertainty of what the future will bring, “Lo, I am with you always…”  As we struggle to live out our calling as God’s people – as we struggle to call the world to Jesus – as we struggle when we face a world that is increasingly become hostile to the Christian message – ridicules and makes fun of Christians who attempt to speak out and live out their faith, “Lo, I am with you always…”

Pentecost is God’s promise that He is with us.

 

 

 

Amen!

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