Friday, 25 May 2012

Pentecost sermon notes

We have an ordination of an elder at one of the churches on Sunday and a baptism at one of the others. For each service, the final paragraph will be different according to what the service is for...

Every year we come round to Pentecost – the coming of the Holy Spirit 50 days after Easter. We have had the usual celebration of the death of Jesus on the cross, his rising from the grave on Easter Sunday, and his ascension back into heaven to the father. Now the Spirit comes down on the disciples, as Jesus promised before he died.

No wonder little Patrick, in the Reception class at William Westley, wanted to ask me last week ‘Jesus died and rose and where is he now?’.

I would want to add to that question the further question – what relevance does Luke’s account in Acts of the pyrotechnics of the first day of Pentecost – the coming of the Spirit with a great rush of wind and with tongues of fire – what relevance does all this have for us today?
Perhaps the answer to both questions can be found in the account of Jesus words to his disciples at the last supper, words we find in John’s gospel.

Jesus promises his followers that the Spirit will come – in fact he says that unless he goes away from them, the Spirit cannot come. The Spirit will be an advocate, one who speaks to them, comforts them, inspires them.
Jesus says “And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because they do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.”
What is this proof about sin, righteousness and judgement that the Spirit will bring? What’s it all about?
Jesus speaks of the Spirit as the one who will shine a light on the things that Jesus has done and said, for the disciples. They will be able to see that not believing in Jesus is a sin – it is something that takes people away from God. Jesus says he is from God & is going to God the Father – he is one with God and the Spirit will help people to understand that when they don’t see this they are wrong.

That light will help people to see the way forward in life – that Jesus is the one who can put us right with God: he has shown us God’s love for us and now we need to live in that love, even though Jesus is not physically present in the same way.

And the light will help his disciples to judge between what is from God and of God and what is not – to find God’s way for their lives.

The Spirit is a light which guides us. It does not just give us a general sense that Jesus is still with us in a vague sort of way. The Spirit comes to each person, to help them to see that Jesus is with each one of them as truly as if he was right next to them – even though he is not present in his bodily form any more.

That is why I think Luke, in Acts, tells us about the real shock the disciples receive when the spirit comes to them. Tongues of fire rest on each one. Suddenly they see who Jesus is, what he is, and where he is.

In response to Patrick’s question – ‘where is Jesus?’ the Spirit tells us – Jesus is Here and Now – with us and for us, always.

So what about the other question – what relevance does the coming of the Spirit have for us?
We will ordain Llandre as an elder today – we will ask the holy spirit to come and help her in the work she is promising to do. We are asking for the blessing of the Father, the companionship of the Son and the power of the Spirit to help her and bless her.

May it be so. Amen.

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