15 May 2016
“All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit …” (Acts 2:4)
In the name …
Going to try something a bit different this morning for my sermon.
Hope you brought a Bible with you. We have some. If at any point you have a question or comment, let it fly. It’s Pentecost. It’s a celebration of the Spirit’s inspiration of the community. One Christian pastor has said, “Worship is simply giving God His breath back.” (Louie Giglio)
· Acts 1:15 – 120 believers. 12 x 10. Where’d they all come from?
· Acts 2:1, 4 – “all” of them.
· All the people filling the streets of Jerusalem are there for the Jewish feast of Pentecost, which celebrates the giving of the Law to Moses. The choice of linking the Spirit with Pentecost is the intentional choice of replacing “law” with Spirit, of written on stone with the living, breathing, abiding Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is shared with the entire gathered community of believers. This is not a gift limited to the apostles. This is a gift shared among all in the church. Acts 2:17-18.
· Acts 2:4, 11, 13 – speaking and hearing, but some sneered, “They are filled with new wine.”
O.K., some are graced with the ability to speak and others to hear, but it’s not ordinary language that we’re talking about. The ones not graced aren’t hearing foreign languages; they’re hearing drunken babel. This is called the gift of tongues.
· 1 Corinthians 14:4-5 – “those who speak in a tongue build up themselves, but those who prophesy build up the church. Now I would like all of you to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. One who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up.”
Now who are the “we” in this passage about hearing? It’s the people on the streets of Jerusalem. These are not believers. These are not part of the 120. Some receive the Holy Spirit and others do not.
We’re not told why the distinction, but it is clear that the Spirit reaches out beyond the church and inspires people.
The Spirit is not confined nor defined by the church. The descent is heard as a violent wind – think hurricane. This is not a summer breeze. The descent is seen as fire. Fire symbolizes the awesome power of God.
The Spirit empowers the church, not the other way around. The Spirit works beyond the church, and leads the church to where God wants us to be.
Back in the late 2nd century there was a bishop in Lyon, now France, named Irenaeus. He wrote a treatise called Against Heresies, and in that work he said, “For where the church is, there is the Spirit of God; and where the Spirit of God, there the church and every grace.”
If the Spirit reaches out beyond believers, then that means the church reaches out beyond believers. The church, in other words, isn’t only what we see now. The church is what God wills her to be someday. The church is a work-in progress. The church is being called somewhere, and the Spirit is how we get there.
We have to let the Spirit lead. We have to trust in the Spirit’s leadership. Sometimes it may not make sense to us, but that’s the mystery and beauty of Pentecost: God is bigger than we are.
Let our Pentecost prayer be that the Spirit fill our souls, our church and even beyond to our whole world.
In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen. (+)
Fr. Randolph Calvo