Almighty God, on this day you opened the way of eternal life to every race and nation by the promised gift of your Holy Spirit: Shed abroad this gift throughout the world by the preaching of the Gospel, that it may reach to the ends of the
earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
John 15:26-27, 16:4b-15
If we look at our Gospel lesson this morning, we hear Jesus describing the Comforter who Jesus is sending to his disciples to be their guide after he has returned the father. Then we listen as Luke describes the actual appearance of the Holy Spirit who comes like a great tongue of fire on the Day of Pentecost, fifty days after the resurrection and only ten days after Jesus’ ascension back to heaven and the right hand of his father.
In John’s gospel he told us that Jesus breathed on the disciples and they received the Holy Spirit. I believe that what we might learn from today’s lessons is that with that event along with Jesus’ great commission at his ascension …coupled with the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the Church has been called to be God’s messenger to the world. But even the Church can only be fit to be God’s messenger and the instrument of God’s love when her love for God is total and her willingness to be obedient is complete.
Jesus had come to earth in the form of a man. He had gathered around him a handful of men whom he had taught and groomed to continue the work that he had begun. They were the ones he had chosen, and he had breathed on them and filled them with his Holy Spirit.
And then at his ascension, he told them to go to Jerusalem and wait; and that’s what they did. Luke writes that it was the day of Pentecost and he describes the roar of a violent windstorm that was observed by those who had gathered to pray. And we can only assume that the huge crowd of pilgrims that were worshipping in the temple, at some point, became aware that something unusual was taking place somewhere in the city. As they ventured out of the temple grounds, they could see flashes of fire coming from one of the nearby houses. And I imagine that the people wanted to see what was happening. What could all of this mean
Suddenly, twelve men emerged from a house and began to speak to all who would listen. And Luke tells us that the crowd was astonished because everyone was hearing what was being said in their own language.
We may not know exactly what happened but we do know that the people heard. They actually heard the message of the good news. They heard the story of Jesus in such a way that their hearts were touched. I suspect that many of the people were hearing the story of Jesus for the first time since many of them lived outside the immediate area of Judea and Galilee. Word didn’t travel in New Testament times like it does today …so many may have been hearing of Jesus for the first time.
Before the day was over 3000 people believed and were baptized. That was the beginning of the New Testament Church. Jesus had told his disciples to take the Gospel, where? First to Jerusalem, then to Judea and Samaria, and then to the ends of the earth. Now how could twelve men have ever accomplished that task? I suspect that during the ten days between Jesus’ ascension and the day of Pentecost, they may have asked themselves that question many times. It would have seemed to have been an impossible task.
But what happened at Pentecost? Three thousand people were converted. And what happened to those three thousand plus people at the end of the feast? They returned to their homes… in Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth…and they took the good news with them.
And here we are this morning….2000 year later and God’s commission to his Church hasn’t changed. We are still called today to carry the good news out into the world. And that commission is meant to be for all Christians…not just the clergy and a handful of committed lay people. We are all called to share our story with someone else. We are called to live by example a life that says that a Christian is different. They’re more loving and more caring and more committed. At least we’re supposed to be.
This is Pentecost Sunday, let’s begin to give God thanks for the gift of his Spirit and ask that we will be open and receptive to his leadership in our lives each day. We are still called to spread the Good News, knowing that God is good…all the time,
An Act of Spiritual Communion
“My Jesus, I belie that you are present in the holy sacrament of your body and blood. I love you above all things and I desire to receive you into my soul. Since I cannot at this time receive you sacramentally, I invite you to come spiritually into my heart. I embrace you as if you were here with me and I unite myself with you fully. Never permit me to be separated from you. Amen
A Prayer for the Church and Benediction:
Almighty and everliving God, ruler of all things in heaven and earth, hear our prayers this parish family. Strengthen the faithful, arouse the careless, and restore the penitent. Grant us all things necessary for our common life, and bring us all to be of one heart and mind within your holy Church; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
May the peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit be among you, and remain with you always. Amen.