Reading: Acts 2:1-21
What a wonderful day to celebrate Pentecost!
Let me share with you what “Pentecost” means: “The 50th day”
“Pentecost” is not a Christian creation.
The Jewish people celebrate Pentecost every year.
They call is Shavuot.
It is a day they celebrate the giving of the Torah upon Mount Sinai.
And since the 2nd century, Christians have kept the 50th day as a celebration of the giving of the Holy Spirit to the disciples, and thus giving birth to the Christian church.
But why should we as Christians and Lutherans make such a big deal about Pentecost?
To answer that let’s review the biggest seasons in the Church year:
Advent/Christmas & Lent/Easter.
For Advent and Christmas we celebrate the birth of Jesus
For Lent and Easter we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus
Those are things that happened.
They are past events.
On Pentecost, we celebrate an event that CONTINUES to happen TODAY.
The Holy Spirit did not just arrive on that one day in Acts 2.
The Spirit is still at work.
And one of the reasons I love Pentecost is it gives me an opportunity to talk about the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Holy Trinity.
A person of The Triune God. (I love that word “Triune” because it makes me sound so educated!)
Sometimes rather than treating the Holy Spirit as the third person of the Trinity, we treat the Spirit as the third wheel.
Many Christians have a hard time talking about the Spirit.
I learned this lesson the hard way when I was just starting out at seminary.
It was during my first semester and I had my first on-campus interview with my Candidacy Committee.
I was SO ready for this interview!
And then…well…things didn’t go as planned.
The first question asked by the Committee was “Why did you come to seminary?”
I answered, “I decided to go to seminary because…”
And before I could go on, before I had gotten ONE sentence out of my mouth, one of the Committee members (or as I would call them the Judges) interrupted me and said, “It was not YOU who decided to go to Seminary, MISTER Conrad, it was the HOLY SPIRIT that guided you to seminary!”
That was when I knew I was going to be in for a long four year journey.
Looking back, that one sentence DID make an impact on my ministry AND my life.
And it was a positive one!
What that sentence did was take the Holy Spirit that can be found all over these Bible pages (hold up a Bible), and it pulled it out of the Bible and brought it into reality.
The same Spirit that was working in and through the disciples was working in and through me.
I DIDN’T decide to go to seminary.
The Holy Spirit DID lead me into ministry.
And this same Spirit is alive and well today right here, right now working in, through, under, and with all of us.
Now to get us to realize this, I want us to change our language when it comes to God and The Holy Spirit.
Let me tell you someone who loved the Holy Spirit.
Luther helped me make the distinction between past and current events:
“For creation is an established fact, and redemption, too, is finished.
But the Holy Spirit carries on His work without ceasing until the Last Day.”
And then Luther explains what the Spirit does right here and now in each and every one of us:
- Enlightens our hearts from within
- Brings us to true knowledge
- Begins, arouses, and strengthens faith in us
- Comforts us
- Makes us aware of the devil and all his empty promises
These are the works of the Holy Spirit.
These are the works of God.
And let me urge and encourage you how to look at these works:
Do not look at them as a list of the things God does FOR us.
These are the things God does TO and THROUGH us.
The Spirit MOVES us to action and reaction:
The Spirit can move us to say or HEAR the words:
“I love you.”
“How can I help you?”
“Thanks be to God.”
“I forgive you.”
“You need to be at church”
All these things that I mention are not just for our benefit.
These works are meant to send us out and offer these same gifts to everyone around us.
Because the Holy Spirit cannot be contained.
It cannot be controlled.
One of the reasons I love having this service outdoors is gives us an image that the Holy Spirit cannot be kept in a building.
The Holy Spirit is out of this world!
And The Spirit has work to do.
WE have work to do.
And the first step in doing such work, is to let the Spirit in.
One of the songs we love to sing to Paul is called “Open Shut Them.”
And there is a lyric that goes, “Open up your little mouth…BUT do not let them in.”
That’s all fine for the creepy crawlies,
But let’s not do that to the Holy Spirit!
LET THE SPIRIT IN!
LET IT MOVE IN!
LET IT MOVE YOU to a newer deeper understanding of God,
And God’s love for you,
And God’s love for this world.
Today we do not celebrate something that is in the past.
Today we celebrate SOMEONE who is in our present, and doing wonderful and incredible work.
And this someone…GOD…is calling each of us to be a part of that work.