|21st Sunday After Pentecost, Year A, Proper 27||November 6, 2011||Sermon, Proper 27, Year A, All Saints’ Sunday||Matthew 25:1-13; Wisdom of Solomon 6:12-20|
|20th Sunday After Pentecost, Year A, Proper 26||October 30, 2011||Proper 26, Year A||Micah 3:5-12; Psalm 43; 1 Thessalonians 2:9-13; Matthew 23:1-12|
|19th Sunday After Pentecost, Year A, Proper 25||October 23, 2011||Proper 25, Year A||Leviticus 19:1-2, 15-18; 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8; Matthew 22:34-46|
|18th Sunday After Pentecost, Year A, Proper 24||October 16, 2011||Proper 24, Year A||Matthew 22:15-22, Psalm 96|
|17th Sunday After Pentecost, Year A, Proper 23||October 9, 2011||Proper 23, Year A||Isaiah 25:1-12; Matthew 22:1-14|
|15th Sunday After Pentecost, Year A, Proper 21||September 25, 2011||Proper 21, Year A||Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32; Psalm 25:1-8; Philippians 2:1-13; Matthew 21:23-32|
|13th Sunday After Pentecost, Year A, Proper 19||September 11, 2011||Sermon, Proper 19, Year A||Matthew 18:21-35; Romans 14:1-12|
|12th Sunday after Pentecost, Year A, Proper 18||September 4, 2011||Sermon, Proper 18, Year A||Romans 13:8-14; Matthew 18:15-20|
|10th Sunday After Pentecost – “But who do you say that I am?”||August 21, 2011||Proper 16, Year A||Isaiah 51:1-6; Romans 12:1-8; Matthew 16:13-20|
|9th Sunday after Pentecost Year A – Canaanite Woman||August 14, 2011||Sermon, Proper 15, Year A||Matthew 15: (10-20), 21-28|
|8th Sunday after Pentecost, Year A – Peter Gets Out of the Boat||August 7, 2011||Proper 14, Year A||Matthew 14:22-33|
|Seventh Sunday after Pentecost – Feeding of the 5000||July 31, 2011||Proper 13, Year A||Matthew 14:13-21|
|Third Sunday after Pentecost||July 3, 2011||Third Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 9, Year A||Zechariah 9:9-12; Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30|
|Second Sunday after Pentecost, Year A, Proper 8||June 26, 2011||Second Sunday after Pentecost||Romans 6:12-23; Psalm 89: 1-4, 15-18|
|First Sunday after Pentecost, Trinity Sunday||June 19, 2011||First Sunday after Pentecost, Year A||Genesis 1:1-2:4a, 2 Corinthians 13:11-13; Matthew 28:16-20|
The Day of Pentecost
Sermon Date:June 12, 2011
Scripture: Acts 2:1-21; 1 Corinthians 12:3b-13; John 20:19-23
Liturgy Calendar: Day of Pentecost
God reaches down to us through the dramatic, awe inspiring, powerful action of the Holy Spirit blowing into our midst.
If you were surprised earlier by the “sound of the wind” surrounding you and the “flames” coming down on your heads as Bill read the passage from Acts, imagine the surprise of all of those who experienced the arrival of the Holy Spirit on that first Pentecost!
Everyone in Jerusalem heard the wind blow!—This was not some gentle summer breeze, but the rush of a violent wind!
And everyone could see the flames—divided tongues as of fire, and tongues of flame rested on the disciples who had been in the upper room devoting themselves to prayer.
And as the Holy Spirit burned its way into their very beings, they began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
The arrival of the Holy Spirit is about more than God’s relationship with these individual disciples—God appears to and enters into each of these disciples with a purpose,
And that purpose is that they can reach out to all of those brought running by the sound of the wind—reach out by speaking in the languages of the Parthians, the Medes, the Elamites, reaching out by speaking the languages spoken to the ends of the earth.
And the speaking of these different languages gathered the disciples up in the sound of one rushing wind, and lifted them all, in the company of one another, into the awesome presence of God, to drink up God’s spirit, and in the process to become transformed human beings, full of the power of the Holy Spirit,
So that they could go out and use their gifts to build up the Body of Christ and to witness to the world, no matter what the cost.
Some in the crowd who witnessed this event received the Holy Spirit themselves.
If you read on a little farther in Chapter 2 of Acts, you’ll find that after hearing Peter preach, over three thousand people who heard the wind blow in Jerusalem that morning asked to be baptized. They too had felt the power of the Holy Spirit entering into them.
But not everyone.
Others sneered in disbelief. “They are drunk!” they shouted. They tried to cast doubt and spread disbelief about what happened there that morning.
These people who were so full of derision missed out on receiving the Holy Spirit.
Even though they too heard the wind blow, the wind couldn’t get past the shut doors of their hearts and minds.
The second story about the arrival of the Holy Spirit that we heard in the Gospel according to John is just as dramatic and powerful as the story in Acts, although some of the details differ.
Once again we find the disciples, gathered in a room—but this room has a locked door, because the disciples are full of fear and terrified by the horrible crucifixion that they have witnessed.
And Jesus himself appears among them, and says, ”Peace be with you.”
And when they realize, having seen his hands and side, that Jesus really is among them again, joy replaces the fear.
Now that the fear has gone, and the disciples are full of peace and joy, they are ready to receive the incredible gift that Jesus has brought with him—the gift of the Holy Spirit.
And the Holy Spirit arrives as a breath—this time, not as the breath of a mighty wind, but the breath of Jesus himself.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you…. Receive the Holy Spirit.”
Each disciple had to make a decision in that moment to receive the Holy Spirit and to be willing to be sent out.
Because, once again, this gift is about more than each disciple’s relationship with Jesus—the gift has a broader purpose.
“As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
Now that Jesus will no longer be in the world, the disciples are to carry on his healing, restoring, transforming work in the world, because they have been healed, restored and transformed by breathing in the breath of the Holy Spirit.
Now we arrive at the third story.
Although doves do not appear in our readings today, we know from all four gospel accounts of Jesus’ baptism that the heavens were torn apart and the Holy Spirit appeared in the form of a dove as God spoke and said, “You are my son, my beloved. With you I am well pleased.”
And so this third story about the Holy Spirit centers around doves—specifically Howard Muhly’s pigeons.
When a pigeon hatches, its whole world is its nest.
Baby pigeons have all they need right in their nests—security and protection, and the parents feed the babies.
But as the chicks mature, the parents step farther and farther from the nest as they feed the babies, and eventually, the babies have to leave the nest to survive.
After some hard falls, and a lot of fluttering up and down, the baby pigeon’s wings mature. These youngsters become aware of the wind that blows around them
And soon they learn to stretch out their wings and fly.
Howard’s pigeons are racing pigeons.
Howard trains them to go out and to do a job, and that job is to fly home as quickly as possible, even from long distances.
We are like Howard’s pigeons. We are safe in this nest, our church. We tend to one another and we have all we need.
But as we mature as Christians, God trains us to do some work, just as Howard trains his pigeons to race.
“As the Father has sent me, so I send you-“
And one day, we feel the wind of the Holy Spirit, we feel Jesus breathing on us, and instead of wanting to huddle in our safe space, protected by the locked doors of fear or helplessness or distrust, or derision, or whatever it is that keeps us from flying
We decide to open our wings, and we realize that we are ready to receive the Holy Spirit
We find that we long to fly out into the world carried by the powerful wind of the Spirit, wherever that wind takes us—maybe to someone right in our family, or to someone in our church, or someone next door, or to someone at school, or at work, maybe to people at the other ends of the earth
to witness to the peace, and joy and the transforming, restoring, unifying love of God –
because God has set us free through the power of the Holy Spirit,
God has set us free to go in peace to love and serve the Lord. Alleluia, Alleluia Alleluia.
(Thanks be to God—Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.)