Sunday, May 19, 2013

The "Fire Within" - Pentecost, John 20:19-23

Today we celebrate Pentecost, the third most important day in the liturgical year, after Easter and Christmas.  While we celebrate the birth of Jesus and Our Lord’s Resurrection with great glory and majesty, Pentecost appears to be just another Sunday liturgy; remarkable only as the ending to the Easter season.  But Pentecost is really a beginning, a beginning we should celebrate with equal glory and majesty and greet with great joy, festivities and commemorations similar to those used to celebrate Christmas and Easter.

Pentecost is when we received God’s gift of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus’ promise to us that the Father would send his Spirit to his disciples to comfort and guide us, to teach us and remind us of all that Jesus said is fulfilled through His ascension into heaven.  The gift of the Holy Spirit would come upon us, to be with us from that time forward.

The gift of the Holy Spirit is not something we put on a shelf to admire and show to friends – “Look! See what God gave me!”  It is a gift that fills us; it is a gift that dwells within us, a gift that descends upon us – covering us completely without and within.  It is a gift, “like a tongue of fire” that may not appear on our heads as with the first disciples, but a fire that burns within us.  It is holy inspiration, a holy desire that gives us the power to bring the Good News to all creation: to continue the missionary work of Jesus to the world.

The Gift of the Holy Spirit, given to all Disciples of Jesus, is not for our personal use, but for the common good – to be used for all-the-world.  We are called to make Christ known to the world, to bring God’s message of love to every creature, to be the face of Jesus to all we meet and see His face in everyone. 

Jesus commands us to go out – using the power of the Holy Spirit as guide and teacher to baptize all the nations, calling us to spread His Good News and the love of God: to make known the Father’s promise of love for all his children. 

This sounds fine, but in this day, are we really expected to go out into the streets as did the disciples of Jesus on that Pentecost so long ago?  Speaking in tongues, so that everyone we meet will hear the Good News?
The short answer is – YES!

Jesus told us, in our hour of need, “. . .do not worry about how or what you will speak in your defense or what you will say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” Luke 12:12
In practical ways, the Spirit inspires us to share our love of God. In the Spirit we share our gifts given for the good of others. 
  •          The Spirit is present when we teach our children and others of the love of God for all his people and as we show our faith in the life we live.   
  •          It is the Spirit that whispers in our ear the things to say to others who need to hear the Good News.  He moves us to live out our faith: feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and sheltering the homeless. 
  •          We are strengthened by the Spirit as we instruct those who despair and have doubt. 

·         The Spirit rises up in us as we witness to God’s justice; bringing His peace and hope to a troubled world.
We are to trust in the Spirit and the promise of Jesus as we continue his work to all-the-world.  When we doubt and are held back by misgivings, social convention or popular opinion – we remember – all things are possible with God. 

It is through His gift of the Spirit that we can do all things for the common good.  His miracles are worked through each of us, not by some magic or unexplained mystery.  We are just as the first disciples of Jesus enclosed in that upper room: We are chosen; we are gifted, - we are honored - disciples of Jesus; called to continue his mission, fulfilling his promise and glorifying God through his Word.

It is the Holy Spirit - that “Fire Within” in which we are confirmed in Christ. The Spirit that gives us strength and courage to go out – as did those first disciples: – out into the streets – out into the world – bringing the Word of God to all the nations.  Sharing our faith and hope with all creation; witnessing to all people the love of God that dwells in our hearts.  Preaching and teaching, through the power of the Holy Spirit, in the name of Jesus Christ, Our Lord.
~ Amen

Deacon Don Ron

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