Trinity, Shepherdstown, Pentecost Sermon

For Pentecost

Dear Friends, 

Unfortunately, we have been through a week of grief.  100,000 people dead as a result of corona virus and , link called the senseless death of a black man in Minneapolis and the resulting violence.  We grieve for all who have died, for their friends and families, for so many who live in fear, for the many police officers who do and have always served and protected even at risk to themselves.  It is indeed a hard time.  Yet our call as Christians is to continue to be a people of love and hope.  The love and hope that leads us to “respect the dignity of every human being” and the love and hope that pushes us to pray for and seek “justice and peace among all people”.   Today is the Feast of Pentecost, Whitsunday.  It commemorates the gift of the Holy Spirit that blew over and through the first disciples like wind and fire, cleansing them, strengthening them, and enabling them to continue Jesus’ work of incarnate love.  As we continue to pray for our world, for an end to violence of every kind, for the sick and suffering and grieving, may that same wind of the Spirit blow though us today filling us anew and afresh with the Love of Jesus that really can bring the fruits and evidences of His Kingdom, where justice, love, mercy and peace prevail.

We have begun planning for beginning services again in the near future.  Hopefully, I can share more about that next week.  Meanwhile, let us continue our prayers, keep the wondrous faith entrusted to our care, remember the less fortunate, and remember to count our many, many blessings.

GT

The Lessons:

Acts 2:1-21
I Corinthians 12: 3-13
John 20: 10-23

A Homily:

The Feast of Pentecost, Whitsunday, what a wild and wonderful day in the life of the Church.  Were we in church we would be wearing red and hearing the lesson from Acts in multiple languages recreating in a sense that first Pentecost.  Until this day, since last December, our stories and themes for Sundays have predominantly been all about Jesus and His time on earth.  Now, though, the story begins to shift from the life of Jesus to the life of His disciples and us.  What a story Acts tells!  They were all together in one place and all at once came the sound of a violent wind, tongues of fire dancing on their heads, and the ability to speak in other languages.  It was Jesus’ promised gift of the Holy Spirit.  Before that, before Pentecost, the disciple had been rather timid and confused followers of Christ.  They were anxious, scared, bumbling about, especially after Jesus’ death.  But after the experience of the Holy Spirit, Acts tells us that they became fearless leaders, courageous in their spreading of Jesus’ message of love.  It was Peter who helped them see.  They had experienced the fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel, “I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh”.  There are new dreams, new visions, a whole new way of being enabled by the palpable presence of the Holy Spirit just as Jesus had promised.  

Yet how hard the notion of Holy Spirit can be for us 21 century Christians.  Our five senses don’t work to find Her.  Science and scientific method are often of little use.  The truth is that the Spirt is known by the heart.  In the book The Little Prince the author writes, “One sees clearly only with the heart.  Anything essential is invisible to the eye.”  And so, it is with the heart that we know at least the effects of the Holy Spirit: comfort in the midst of pain, times when we find ourselves able to give and love despite evidence to do just the contrary.  Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would come to us disciples strengthening us, teaching us, molding, and forming us into the people He had already made us to be: God’s children by adoption and grace.  Those who, as Jesus instructed, are able to love, to love God and one another.  Those who do as one author implied, “Maybe we are here to love wildly, passionately, and fearlessly whispered the heart.  You are going to get us all killed yelled the brain.” To see with the heart, to live and love wildly and passionately, to be the children of God, loving as Jesus loved, God and one another.  It is what the gift of the Holy Spirit enabled in the first disciples and engenders and enables in us.  

But those brains of ours are always and everywhere at work: shouting all its fears, distracting us with our busyness, reminding us of ourselves and our needs.  How hard it can be to overcome that loud and ever so rational voice, to move up and out of ourselves so that we can love.  That is precisely why today is so especially important in our lives and the life of the Church.  The gift of the Holy Spirit always and everywhere encourages and enables us to see with our hearts, strengthens and pushes us up and out of ourselves and our fears, molds and fashions us into the wild and passionate lovers of the Kingdom of God, the children of our ever loving God who is who we really are.

May we today and each day allow that wind of the Spirit to blow in our lives, blowing away our fears, setting us on fire with the love of Jesus for God and one another that each of us may truly become who He has made us: God’s children of wild, passionate and fearless loving.

AMEN

SOME PRAYERS:

Almighty God, whose blessed Son our Savior Jesus Christ
ascended far above all heavens that he might fill all things:
Mercifully give us faith to perceive that, according to his
promise, he abides with his Church on earth, even to the end
of the ages; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and
reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory
everlasting. Amen.

O God, the King of glory, you have exalted your only Son
Jesus Christ with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven:
Do not leave us comfortless, but send us your Holy Spirit to
strengthen us, and exalt us to that place where our Savior
Christ has gone before; who lives and reigns with you and
the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

O heavenly Father, who hast filled the world with beauty:
Open our eyes to behold thy gracious hand in all thy works;
that, rejoicing in thy whole creation, we may learn to serve
thee with gladness; for the sake of him through whom all
things were made, thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

O God of peace, who hast taught us that in returning and
rest we shall be saved, in quietness and confidence shall be
our strength: By the might of thy Spirit lift us, we pray thee,
to thy presence, where we may be still and know that thou
art
 God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

This is another day, O Lord.  I know not what it will bring
forth, but make me ready, Lord, for whatever it may be.  If I
am to stand up, help me to stand bravely.  If I am to sit still,
help me to sit quietly.  If I am to lie low, help me to do it
patiently.  And if I am to do nothing, let me do it gallantly. 
Make these words more than words, and give me the Spirit
of Jesus.  Amen. 

O God, whose fatherly care reacheth to the uttermost parts
of the earth: We humbly beseech thee graciously to behold
and bless those whom we love, now absent from us. Defend
them from all dangers of soul and body; and grant that both
they and we, drawing nearer to thee, may be bound together
by thy love in the communion of thy Holy Spirit, and in the
fellowship of thy saints; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or
weep, and give your angels charge over those who
sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless
the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the
joyous; and all for your love's sake. Amen.

Almighty God, Father of all mercies,
we your unworthy servants give you humble thanks
for all your goodness and loving-kindness
to us and to all whom you have made.
We bless you for our creation, preservation,
and all the blessings of this life;
but above all for your immeasurable love
in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ;
for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory.
And, we pray, give us such an awareness of your mercies,
that with truly thankful hearts we may show forth your praise,
not only with our lips, but in our lives,
by giving up our selves to your service,
and by walking before you
in holiness and righteousness all our days;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit,
be honor and glory throughout all ages. Amen.

May the Lord Jesus Christ who serves with wounded hands help you to serve each other.
May the Lord Jesus Christ who loves with a wounded heart help you to love each other and your neighbors. 
Praise God wherever you may go and may you see the face of God in everyone you meet
And the blessing of God Almighty: Father Son and Holy Spirit be with you this day and always.  AMEN