Sermon – 05-31-20 – Pentecost Sunday – Cycle A
Scripture: Acts 2:1-21; Psalm 104:24-34; 1 Corinthians 12:3b-13; John 20:19-23
Sermon Title: “All People”
See the little flames! They’re hopping all over the people, especially the disciples! Don’t they burn? They are going too fast to burn. Now you see them, now you don’t! They could not stay in one place if they wanted to. The wind is too busy blowing. This wind whistled down from heaven without warning. It was an urgent noise, like the scream of a high wind.
If you have ever been in a tornado, this talk may bring back those awful memories. This story is different. We don’t read about damage. Just awesome surprise! Then to top everything, the Holy Spirit takes control of the Lord’s followers, and they begin speaking whatever languages the Spirit lets them speak.
Apparently, they were speaking so loudly that the Jews in Jerusalem who came from many different countries, understanding only their own languages, are attracted to this babble. They can understand. Through all these languages at one time, each can hear his or her own language.
This is unbelievable! These Jews are captivated. What is going on here? They do not wander away from this scene. They are transfixed. Someone has the nerve to say that these followers of Jesus are drunk! Our friend Peter quickly assures this accuser that it is only 9:00 in the morning. No drunkenness here! This is the Holy Spirit working among them.
This is the Holy Spirit that Jesus promised time and again. Remember the Advocate, the Comforter, the Counselor; it’s here! Peter starts preaching and continues preaching until 3,000 new believers are baptized and are added to the number of the Lord’s followers.
Lest we think that this is the first time the Holy Spirit is mentioned or appears in the history of humankind, we can find references in the Old Testament to the Holy Spirit. If we use a Bible search engine, such as Bible Oremus or Bible Gateway, we find at least three references to the Holy Spirit – two in Isaiah, one in the Psalms. Remember that the three persons of God were always together, backward into nothing time. Father, Son, Holy Spirit always together, always three!
Now in the New Testament, after Jesus appeared on earth, the Holy Spirit is given by Jesus to his disciples as they are gathered around a table. Did you catch that when I read from John 20? This is after the resurrection when Jesus just appears to the disciples in their gathering room. Jesus appears and says, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathes on them and says to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
This is before the great event of the dancing flames and the mighty wind and the various languages. At this big Pentecost event, the Holy Spirit has arrived for everyone, for all people. No one is excluded who wants to be there. It is something like a strong magnet.
This leads us to our Epistle lesson, the first letter of Paul to the Corinthians. “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit.” This line always fascinates me! We have been singing, “He is Lord” since Easter. I feel filled with the Holy Spirit when I am singing that song. “Every knee shall bow, every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” The passion of the Holy Spirit just swells into the air and whose knee shall bow and whose tongue shall declare? Yes, “every.” Every knee, every tongue.
Every! All! All People! The Spirit arrives in rushing wind and little flames, bringing God’s presence to all people. Just as the disciples were empowered by Jesus breathing the Holy Spirit upon them, we too are given the breath of the Holy Spirit and sent out to proclaim God’s redeeming love to all the world.
In our baptism, in the partaking of the Holy Communion, we are renewed by the Holy Spirit. Let each one of us, all of us, accept this power of the Holy Spirit and go forth, sharing this renewed passion for the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Can we do this through our COVID-19 masks? Amen