23 May 2021
“Bethlehem was God with us, Calvary was God for us, Pentecost is God in us.” - Robert Baer
In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit:
The Solemnity of Pentecost celebrates the birth of the Christian Church. It is a time, when the Holy Spirit descended on those gathered in the Upper Room in Jerusalem. The term “Pentecost” comes from the Greek word meaning "fifty," and is observed 50 days following the Resurrection and 10 days following His Ascension.
According to our faith, we believe that God exists in three Divine but separate persons. This is known as the “Holy Trinity.” Our belief is that God the Father, is the creator of all things, God the Son, is the Redeemer and Regenerator of the world and that the Holy Spirit edifies the Church and sanctifies its believers through it’s breath.
In the OT, the Holy Spirit was with God from the beginning. In Genesis 1:12 we read:
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, and the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spiritof God moved over the face of the waters.”
The Holy Spiritis known in Judaism as “Ruach”, or the very breath and the “wind of God”. In the OT. He was also known as the “Elohim,” or the seven-fold Spirit of God.
In the OT, we find that the Holy Spirit came unto a select few, with divine gifts for the purposes of providing wisdom and leadership, but most importantly the gift of prophecy. One of the Prophets, Joel, prophesied over 500 years before the Pentecost: “‘And in the last days, it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions and your old men shall dream dreams.” Peter was to remind all of this prophecy when he spoke to the crowds on that first Pentecost as in found in Acts 2:17.
In the NT, the revelation of the Holy Spirit begins with Jesus, for He was the unique bearer of the Spirit. The Spirit was present at Jesus’ conception, as foretold by the Archangel Gabriel in Luke 1:35 and was to descend unto Him in the form of a dove at His baptism. Jesus was to be guided and empowered by the Spirit throughout His public ministry, which included the miracles of healings as well as His preaching and teaching of the “Good News.” It was at the Last Supper, that Jesus promises His disciples that the Spirit would be with them, to protect them as a Comforter and help them to remember and testify everything that the He had taught them while with them.
I would like to share with you two thoughts of the truth of the Holy Spirit on this Pentecost:
- The first truth is that the Holy Spirit empowers all God’s people.The prophecies of the Old Testament and the promises of Jesus concerning the Holy Spirit were fulfilled on that first Pentecost. At that time, God poured out His Spirit on all those gathered as it was foretold by the prophet Joel. The Spirit of God would bring unto all, various gifts for the purpose of edifying and sanctifying the Church. On that first Pentecost, the outpouring of the Spirt caused those assembled with the speaking of tongues, of all the known languages of the world. This would give them the ability to preach in different languages as they were to be the bearers of the “Good News” of Jesus. Prior to His Ascension, Jesus told them:
“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and unto the ends of the earth”.
- The second truth is that the Holy Spirit leads individuals.The New Testament tells us that the story of that first Pentecost continues to the present day. We learn that the Holy Spirit guides the Church and brings new life to its members, who form the “One Body” of Christ. Jesus teaches us in the Gospel of John that the Holy Spirit will come into the hearts of the believers. The Holy Spirit imparts different gifts to better serve God and His people. He assists them in prayer and worship. He transforms Christians into being reborn persons, who bear the “gifts of the Spirit:” love, joy, peace patience, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, humility and self-control and it is the Holy Spirit who creates a new family of God, and a new fellowship with each other, which is called the Church.
The one question that puzzles many people about the Holy Spirit is: How do we know when the Spirit is present? The Holy Spirit cannot be defined or understood by logic or reasoning in the mind of man but can only be known by the grace of God in a sincere heart and in the trust in Jesus, the Anointed One of God. It can be said that when Christ is not Lord, the Spirit is not at work in the individual and. when Christ is Lord, then the Spirit is at work among the believers. The major work of the Holy Spirit is to magnify God’s love for us into our hearts, that one may have a new and better understanding of the love that God has for us. As we learn and share this illumination of God’s divine love, each believer is sanctified (made holy) and the Church in general, is edified (enlightened). Together, the individual and the Church are bound together by this One Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life in the One Body of Christ.
Rev. Fr. Robert M. Koerber