21 May Recognizing the Spirit
How is God present in the world today? That answer is sometimes a difficult one in many Lutheran circles because quite honestly, we don’t talk about the Spirit much.
Encountering the Holy Spirit
We don’t pray to the Spirit much, because we are quite frankly we talk of being saved by Grace thru our Faith in Jesus Christ. But if we have faith even the size of a mustard seed, then we need to take a look at radically shifting the way we think about & expect to encounter the presence of the Spirit in our lives.
We need to re-learn & recognize the role of the Spirit in our lives as intended by Christ. A Spirit intended to be a constant presence in our times of struggle, & our times of joy. The Holy Spirit is here and now with us, Jesus tells us that this is true. Wherever two or three are gathered, in the wine and the bread, in the waters of baptism.
Our readings from this past Sunday paint three very different pictures of the Holy Spirit. It blows into our lives like a violent wind. It dances on our hearts like a tongue of fire. It stands beside us as an Advocate speaking God’s truth to guide us on our journey.
Accompanied by the Spirit
Pentecost began as a Jewish festival celebrated 50 days (pente) after the first barley harvest. It celebrated the new life & abundance of creation given by God. As one author describes for the very first followers of Jesus, “Pentecost marked a liminal moment when peoples gaze shifted from looking back at their memories of Jesus to looking ahead to what they must trust to sustain their life after his death and resurrection had come and gone and had been logged into the annals of history.” Pentecost so important to St. John. Because it’s through this lens we truly see that we worship a God of new beginnings, and Jesus is not apologetic about leaving his friends, this was the plan all along. He’s going to the Father, & this Spirit gift is going to lead his disciples to all nations.
Today we are invited into a life of daily repentance & remembrance of the gift of the Holy Spirit in our lives. In John 20 Jesus says, “As the father has sent me so now I send you!” (John 20:21) And with the Holy Spirit by your side, to walk alongside you as, a teacher, a helper, an advocate, a guide, intercessor, aid, supporter; you’re going to do wonderful things! In Ch 14 Jesus tells us “Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12)
Jesus sent the Spirit. The Spirit of Truth, to accompany us on our journey of faith. To help us to live our lives as Jesus did. Jesus says, “This is my commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you.”(John 15:12) This is the abundant life Jesus spoke of and promised to us through the presence of the Holy Spirit. When we live out, through our lives and our actions the unfailing love of God. Not when we use doctrines & traditions to justify violent or hateful or exclusive treatment of another human being. But when we share love & give love, and Lord knows today we need the Spirit’s help just to break through the apathy & anxiety & violence that has plagued our nation & divided God’s people.
In Acts PETER preaches from the Prophet Joel who explains in Ch 2 how God, “Will pour out his spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. 29Even on the male and female slaves, in those days, I will pour out my spirit. Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved!” (Acts 2:28-29) Everyone will be saved, that is a tall order, because we know we can’t save everyone.
But God can… and I don’t think we are called to. I think we are called to love, like Jesus did, each of us in our own little worlds, in our own lives, in the ways that we as a community & as individuals fill called by the Spirit to do so.
Moving Forward Together, Guided by the Spirit
Thank God for the Spirit in our lives that walks alongside us each time we choose to step outside of our comfort zone and go that extra mile in our faith out of love for God’s creation. That in a nutshell is what we are called to this Pentecost. To listen to the Spirit in our lives, to open ourselves up to the possibility that God might be working through us or calling us out into something that is bigger than we ourselves could imagine.
Pentecost used to be a time when people shifted their focus from the past to the future. On June 3rd we are going to hear the results of the Joshua group project that over 700 of you took part in. Sharing your feelings on where Good Shepherd has been and where we are going and make no mistake that this is a liminal moment for this church, and we have an amazing opportunity to continue to do great things with the SPIRIT by our side.
Which is fun to talk about on this Pentecost Sunday. Where we’re shown that the spirit shatters the façade of limitations created by our world. Where age, gender and status can’t hold a candle to the importance of being a loving child of GOD. Everyone who calls on the name of God will be saved!!! Thanks be to God that everyone means everyone. A Sinner like me and a Sinner like you. Everyone who calls on the name of God will be saved!