Day of Pentecost, Year A

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Title Sermon Date Liturgical Scripture
Two Christmas Eve Meditations December 24, 2014 Christmas Eve, Year B Luke 2:1-20, John 1:1-5, 14, 16
Advent 3, Year B December 14, 2014 Third Sunday of Advent, Year B Psalm 126, I Thessalonians 5:16-24
Advent 2, Year B December 7, 2014 Second Sunday of Advent, Year B Mark 1:1-8
Advent 1, Year B November 30, 2014 First Sunday in Advent, Year B Mark 13:24-37
Christ the King, Year A November 23, 2014 Christ the King, Year A Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24, Psalm 95:1-7a, Ephesians 1:15-23, Matthew 25: 31-46
Pentecost 23, year A November 16, 2014 Proper 28, Year A Matthew 25:14-20
Pentecost 22, year A November 9, 2014 Proper 27, Year A Matthew 25:1-13
All Saints, 2014 November 2, 2014 All Saints’ Day, Year A Psalm 34: 1-10,22, 1 John 3:1-3, Matthew 5:1-12
Pentecost 20, year A October 26, 2014 Proper 25, Year A Leviticus 19:1-2, 15-18, Psalm 1, Matthew 22:34-36
Pentecost 19, year A October 19, 2014 Proper 24, Year A Isaiah 45:1-7, 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10, Matthew 22:15-22
Pentecost 17, year A October 5, 2014 Proper 22, Year A Isaiah 5:1-7, Psalm 80:7-14, Philippians 3:4b-14, Matthew 21:33-46
Pentecost 16, year A September 28, 2014 Proper 21, Year A Sermon, Proper 21, Year A Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32, Psalm 25: 1-8, Philippians 2:1-13, Matthew 21:23-32
Pentecost 14, year A September 14, 2014 Proper 19, Year A Matthew 18:21-35
Pentecost 13, year A September 7, 2014 Proper 18, Year A Ezekiel 33:7-11, Romans 13:8-14, Matthew 18:15-20
Pentecost 11, year A August 24, 2014 Proper 16, Year A Matthew 16:13-20

 

Day of Pentecost, Year A

Sermon Date:June 4, 2017

Scripture: Psalm 104:25-35, 37; Acts 2:1-21, 1 Corinthians 12:3b-13; John 7:37-39

Liturgy Calendar: The Day of Pentecost, Year A


"Day of Pentecost"- Mark Hewitt

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This Sunday is the Day of Pentecost and we’re celebrating the birthday of the Church. 

Birthdays make us think back to the beginning—maybe we even get out old photos and remember our births and our earliest days. 

And so today, on this birthday, let’s get out those old photos and look back and remember the very beginnings of the Church. 

The story of how the Church came to be has its roots in the most elemental building blocks of life—air and water. 

We creatures of the twenty-first century, with our scientific, rational mindsets know from a scientific point of view that clean air and water are essential to life itself.  We have learned the hard way that these things are easily damaged, and that we must tend God’s creation with care if we expect the air and the water on this planet to continue to support all of life.  This tending, by its very nature, is a universal responsibility that cannot be limited by geographical boundaries, for air and water ultimately belong not to us, but to God.   

For us as Christians– the body of Christ, the Church–air and water matter not only as essential for our physical bodies, but they are our very connection to God.  When we Christians simply breathe, we are breathing in God’s very breath.   When we do something as simple as to drink a glass of water, we are drinking in the goodness and the living water of God.

No wonder then that air and water are essential to the foundation of the Church itself.

The story of how air and water are foundational to the Church begins way back in Genesis, and continues to unfold, straight through the Bible.

When I went to Hawaii a few summers ago, my daughter and I flew in a small plane from Oahu to Molokai, and from that small plane, we had a whole new visual perspective of the islands.  We could see more.  So with your help, let’s go flying and see how air and water fit together in Holy Scripture as foundational to God’s Church in this world. 

But I’m going to need some help flying this plane, so here’s what I want you to do. 

When I point to this side of the church, I want you all to say HOLY BREATH. 

And when I point to this side of the church, I want you all to say LIVING WATER. 

And when I raise my arms like this, we’ll all say HOLY BREATH AND LIVING WATER.

First, we’re going to fly over Genesis.  Ready?

In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the earth while a wind from God (HOLY BREATH) swept over the face of the waters.

In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up—a stream would rise from the earth, and water the whole face of the ground (LIVING WATER)

Then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life (HOLY BREATH) and the man became a living being.

God planted a Garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed out of the dust of the earth.  Out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.   And a river (LIVING WATER) flows out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it divides and becomes four branches. 

Flying now over the Psalms—only the briefest of looks—

In the very first Psalm—The righteous are happy.  They are like trees planted by streams of water, (LIVING WATER) which yield their fruit in due season, and their leaves do not wither.  In all that they do, they prosper. 

In Psalm 46–There is a river (LIVING WATER) whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High.

In today’s Psalm, Psalm 104–O Lord, how manifold are your works!  In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.

You send forth your Spirit (HOLY BREATH) and they are created; and you renew the face of the earth. 

May the glory of the Lord endure forever!  May the Lord rejoice in all his works. 

Bless the Lord, (HOLY BREATH AND LIVING WATER) O my soul.  Hallelujah!

The Prophets have a lot to say about breath and water, but in the interest of time, we’re going to explore only one vision from the prophet Ezekiel.

It’s in this vision that Ezekiel takes the organic building block of water that we’ve viewed in Genesis and the Psalms and begins to layer it into our understanding of the Church itself.

Here we go, flying in low now for a closer look. 

From a vision of the Prophet Ezekiel, Chapter 47

Then he brought me back to the entrance of the temple; there water (LIVING WATER) was flowing from below the threshold of the temple toward the east, and the water (LIVING WATER) was flowing down from below the south end of the threshold of the temple, south of the altar.  Then he brought me out by the way of the north gate, and led me around on the outside to the outer gate that faces toward the east; and the water (LIVING WATER)  was coming out on the south side. 

Going eastward with a cord in his hand, the man measured one thousand cubits, and then led me through the water (LIVING WATER); and it was ankle deep.

Again he measured one thousand, and led me through the water (LIVING WATER) and it was knee-deep. 

And again he measured one thousand, and led me through the water (LIVING WATER) and it was up to the waist. 

Again he measured one thousand, and it was a river I could not cross, for the water (LIVING WATER) had risen; it was deep enough to swim in, a river that could not be crossed.  He said to me, “Mortal, have you seen this?”

Then he led me back along the bank of the river.  As I came back, I saw on the bank of the river a great many trees on the one side and on the other.  He said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern  region and goes down into the Arabah; and when it enters the sea, the sea of stagnant waters, the water in the sea will become fresh (LIVING WATER).

Wherever the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish, once these waters reach there.  It will become fresh; and everything will live where the river (LIVING WATER) goes.   People will stand fishing beside the sea; fish will be of a great many kinds.  But its swamps and marshes will not become fresh, they are to be left for salt.  On the banks, on both sides of the river (LIVING WATER) there will grow all kinds of trees for food.  Their leaves will not wither nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the temple.  The fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing. 

Later, in the great book of Revelation, when John has his vision of New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, this same LIVING WATER flows through the center of Holy City.

From Revelation, the 22nd chapter–

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, (LIVING WATER)  bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city.  On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.  Nothing accursed will be found there any more.  But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him; they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 

Now we come to Jesus himself, the person we Christians believe is the Son of God.  Jesus came to live and die as one of us, to be resurrected, and at last to be drawn back into the infinity of God.  But while he was here on earth with us, air and water were so important to him that he referred to both air and water as part of  his divine identity.

All four gospels record the fact that at his baptism, Jesus was immersed in the waters of the Jordan River and that the Holy Spirit (HOLY BREATH) was evident.  Here’s Mark’s account.

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the River Jordan.  And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit (HOLY BREATH) descending like a dove on him.  And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son; the beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

After forty days in the wilderness, alone with God, Jesus returns to Galilee to begin his public ministry, saying “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent and believe in the good news.  He calls disciples to help him spread the word. 

Mark says that as Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen.  And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.”  And immediately, they left their nets and followed him.

That part about calling the disciples is important because Jesus is calling the people who will form the Church, and how interesting that he calls them from the water.  This call of Jesus to the disciples is almost as if he is pulling them out of their birth waters of the Sea of Galilee into this new life as his disciples–into life in deeper, even more life-giving waters, (LIVING WATER), the life of Jesus himself.

Joining up with Jesus is to enter into and to take in LIVING WATER, as today’s gospel reading makes clear.

In today’s gospel, Jesus is in Jerusalem for the Festival of Booths.

The Festival of Booths was a harvest festival that took place in October.  This festival included the pouring out of water each day around the altar in the temple, and the lighting of great lights in the temple.

Jesus cries out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink (LIVING WATER).  As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of LIVING WATER.  Now Jesus said that about the Spirit (HOLY BREATH)  which believers in him were to receive.”

Later, before he is crucified, Jesus says this to the disciples.

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate (HOLY BREATH) to be with you forever.  This (HOLY BREATH) is the Spirit of truth.  The Advocate, the HOLY BREATH, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.”

Not long after this, Jesus is crucified. John’s gospel tells us that since it was the day of Preparation, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the cross during the sabbath….so they asked Pilate to have the legs of the crucified men broken and the bodies removed…when the soldiers  came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs.  Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water (LIVING WATER) came out.

On the third day, God resurrected Jesus from the dead, and in the Gospel according to John, on the evening of the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”  After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side.  Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.  Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.  As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”  When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. (HOLY BREATH)”

Luke’s version differs.

Jesus revealed himself to the disciples many times for the forty days following his resurrection.  While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise (HOLY BREATH) of the Father. 

“This,” he said, “Is what you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit (HOLY BREATH) not many days from now.” 

“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit (HOLY BREATH) has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” 

After the Father lifted Jesus back into the infinity and endless love that is God, the disciples returned to Jerusalem, and constantly devoted themselves to prayer, along with certain women including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.

When the day of Pentecost had come, the disciples were all together in one place.  And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind (HOLY BREATH) and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.  Divided tongues, as of fire appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them.  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit (HOLY BREATH) and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit (HOLY BREATH) gave them ability, and Jews from every nation under heaven could hear the disciples speaking in their native languages. 

And so the church began, and like that river of LIVING WATER in Ezekiel, it kept getting broader and deeper and wider as it carried HOLY BREATH AND LIVING WATER and new life along through time, until at last we too, have joined the countless throngs, swept away into new life as part of this Church, through the power of the HOLY BREATH AND LIVING WATER.

We become part of those countless throngs of Christians who have gone before us through our baptisms.

We hear these words in the Thanksgiving over the Water at every baptism in The Episcopal Church.

“We thank you, Father for the water of Baptism.  In it we are buried with Christ in his death.  By it we share in his resurrection.  Through it we are reborn by the Holy Spirit (HOLY BREATH).  Therefore in joyful obedience to your Son, we bring into his fellowship those who come to him in faith, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit (HOLY BREATH).  Now sanctify this water, we pray you, by the power of the Holy Spirit (HOLY BREATH) so that it may become LIVING WATER, that those who are here cleansed from sin and born again may continue for ever in the risen life of Jesus Christ our Savior. 

Now it’s our turn to spread the good news about Jesus to the ends of the earth. 

It’s our turn to be HOLY BREATH AND LIVING WATER in this world.

This is a jar of water.

But this isn’t any old water.  This is LIVING WATER.

This is the water that we Christians poured out on Good Friday when we came to the foot of the cross to pray.  Each one of us poured some of this water from the pitcher into the chalice as we offered up prayers for something we intended to go do for the common good as Christians, as members of the body of Christ.

Through the power of the HOLY BREATH, this LIVING WATER represents the fact that we are part of that broad, deep and wide torrent of God’s love pouring out into the world, spreading the good news, bringing new life into stagnant places, bringing green and growing hope. 

And through the power of the HOLY BREATH, every breath we breathe in and out breathes God’s HOLY BREATH of love into the Church and into the world. 

Our plane is coming in for a landing now—and we’re home.

Take a deep breath, a HOLY BREATH.

Remember to grab your water bottles, because what’s ahead for us requires constant hydration with LIVING WATER.

Now that we’re back on the ground, it’s time to care for God’s creation, its air and its water being essential to who we are as human beings and as the Church, AND

Now we get to go be God’s Church—to proclaim the good news, and to be God’s Church of fresh air (HOLY BREATH) and clean water (LIVING WATER) out in the world.  (HOLY BREATH AND LIVING WATER). 

Amen. 

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