Day Of Pentecost

RCL Psalm 104:25-35, 37; Acts 2:1-21; 1st Corinthians 12:3-13; John 20:19-23

In the early 60’s my mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and she went through extensive chemo and radiation treatments. After almost fours years she was diagnosed as in remission. Six months later she went for a checkup and they ran some tests and the cancer had invaded her entire body and she entered Holy Cross Hospital in Austin, which was a cancer hospital.

I visited her daily, and mostly she was not in her room. The nurses would say, “She got a wheel chair, but she’s still in the hospital somewhere!” More often than not, I would find her in a hallway or the cafeteria or even a waiting room, telling someone about Jesus. Sometimes it was another patient, sometimes it was one of the hospital staff and sometimes it was just a person coming to visit someone in the hospital.

One day, I asked her why she was so outgoing about talking to people about Jesus. Her response was, “When you are filled with the Holy Spirit, you can’t do anything else. Pat and I were sponsored by dear friends to attend a Cursillo Weekend at Camp Allen. Cursillo is still alive and well within our Diocese, it is a weekend near one of the Lakes at Camp Allen and is designed for persons who desired a deeper walk with our Lord. I can remember the weekend very well, but my table leader made a comment to me that she hoped I would open up more. For me, I was taking in all that was being said, as we were fed both physically and spiritually during the three days weekend, and at the end we were told the fourth day, is the rest of our lives. About two days following that weekend, the impact of all that I had heard hit home with me and I felt the Holy Spirit welling up within me.

It finally made sense to me what my mother had said. When the Holy Spirit takes hold, you can no longer look at someone in need or see a situation that needs help in directing, I could no longer look at it and turn away. All I could see is that I needed to get involved and help out. Sometimes it was organizing people to work on a project or go on a mission trip, or to help find housing for someone or even a job.

The call to ordained ministry seemed to be an inevitable conclusion to what God’s Spirit wanted me to do. I knew immediately it was not as a priest, but to the permanent deaconate. I met with the Standing Committee of the Diocese towards the end of my seminary training and a priest that I love like a brother asked me a question, “If we decide not to allow you to be ordained, what would you do?” My answer was as it remains, “God called me through His Spirit to do what I do. If ordained, I would represent the church, but be obedient to the Holy Spirit, but if not ordained, I will do exactly as I have been doing, being obedient to the Holy Spirit’s direction.

Our Psalm 104:30 says, “When you end your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth.” This means that the elements of God’s creation serve His purposes. He sustains what He created, satisfying the needs of earth and its creatures. Each new birth can be called a new creative act through God’s life-giving Spirit.

Our lesson from Acts tells us the gift of the Spirit to the church at Pentecost fulfilled Old Testament prophecies concerning the Spirit and Jesus’ promises to give the Spirit to His Disciples. What God began in the unique Pentecost event has continued throughout the life of the church. All Christians receive Holy Spirit. The church received the Spirit at a moment God chose. The church had not become more committed, prayerful, or spiritual. The gift of the Spirit was entirely a matter of God’s grace. The Spirit was given to each person, as the tongues of fire separating and resting on each person shows. The Spirit represents a new commitment of God to the covenant relationship as summarized in Leviticus 26:12.

In 1st Corinthians 12, we find that there were members of the church at Corinth, that judged others on whether they had a gift/s that they had; thus, causing conflict among the congregation. Only the indwelling of the Holy Spirit can lead you to confess Christ as Lord. All may not have the same gifts, but that does not mean they do not have the Spirit within them. Some thought you had to speak in tongues, but Paul disagreed strongly. He said one sign shows he Spirit’s presence. The Spirit is present with those sincerely confess that Jesus is Lord. The Spirit is not with anyone who claims that Jesus is cursed. Beloved, the Spirit is always working to build up the people of God, never to tear them part; and His is always working to extend the gospel message, never to muzzle that message.

We all remember the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were huddled together, the doors were locked for fear of the Jews. Can’t you just imagine the feelings? They had all promised to stand by Jesus, yet did not. Suddenly Jesus come and stands among them, saying, “Peace be with you.” The disciples and others in the room were instantly overjoyed. Furthermore, Jesus showed them His hands and side, to prove it was Him, and He repeated, “Peace be with you!” Thus Jesus forgave them for their lack of actions and was there to fulfill the promise to leave them with a Counselor, and then, He breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven, if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.’”

When I read this, and I hope you do as well, I recall the moment that I felt the Holy Spirit filling up within me; it filled every nook and cranny of my insides, but the peace and calm that I felt was like pouring out wine into a cup and it overflows. When you encounter a situation or encounter someone the Spirit will alert you to things not of God and those that are definitely of God. You hear terms like “a woman’s intuition,” or “a man’s sense of something about to happen. That is the working of the Holy Spirit, beloved, and it guides us in all thins. In this moment, we share that which Jesus has given to His disciples and to all of us as well. What a gift!

Have you ever looked at someone’s eyes and thought, “I need to pray for that person/s? Or “There is is something wrong or evil with that person? Or while working within a group, you just “feel” God’s presence? These are all the workings of the Holy Spirit and so much more. It is distinctive, and you just know that the Spirit is giving you guidance. Do you listen or just blow it off? Recently, Pat was in a store and a man walked up to her and told her, “Ma’am, I’m being led by the Holy Spirit and know I am supposed to give you this. With that, he put what she thought was a dollar bill in her hand.” With that, the man walked away and he and his wife walked out of the store. Pat Looked down, and he had actually given her a $100 bill! She looked up and said, Thank You, Lord.

We have been in restaurants before and witnessed a young couple checking their money, to see if they had enough to pay for their meal. Moved by our own memories of doing this when we were a young couple, we would quietly get the attention of their waiter and pay their bill and then leave.

Pentecost is about being receptive to the gift that God offers to us. Jesus had told His disciples that when He left them to return to the Father, that He would leave them a helper, a counselor, a guide for their walk in faith. On this Day of Pentecost, we celebrate first the gift that strengthens our relationship with God through Christ, and then we celebrate what the gift is for and how it can guide us seeking God and also avoiding pitfalls on our own daily walk in faith. Amen.


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