The work of the Holy Spirit takes all of us. It is not work I or anyone can do alone. So today you are part of the sermon. So turn in your hymn book to 377. We are going to lift our voices in song and by the last verse we are going to sing a cappella as a reminder of what we can all do together as the body of Christ in this place.
1 Holy Spirit, hear us,
help us while we sing;
breathe into the music
of the praise we bring.
Last week Jesus finished Luke’s gospel with these words: “You are witnesses of these things. And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:48 – 49) And that is what they did. They went and waited. One day as they were together – praying and praising something amazing and terrifying happened.
It seems that how it always goes when God is involved it is both amazing and terrifying. The disciples with the newly selected Mathias are together when all of a sudden there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind. And then more – divided tongues as of fire appeared among them and a tongue rested on each of them. And then they could speak the languages of the world.
Some were amazed at the power of the Spirit and wondered what this could mean and others sneered figuring they were drunk. For surely this was a new thing.
2 Holy Spirit, shine now
on the book we read;
light its holy pages
with the truth we need.
Peter knew exactly what to do. He pulled out his bible are reminded them of the words of the prophet Joel. “Indeed the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters will prophesy, and your young men shall see visions and old men shall dream dreams.” (Acts 2: 17 – 18) With the gift of the Holy Spirit the disciples began to spread the word about Jesus. The words of life are passed from one person to another, from one generation to the next from that day to this one.
It is easy on the day of Pentecost, the day we celebrate the birth of the church, to only look back at what was and to see only vestiges of former glory. It is harder to look ahead and see what can be. I just spent a whole week in meetings preparing for the General Council of the United Church of Canada in 2015. The Spirit is alive and well in our church. Filled with leaders that are as faithful as they are passionate about their church. Even in the mist of uncertainty, they trust, we trust, that the Holy Spirit will guide and inspire us as we move forward. The message of Jesus that inspired people to travel and speak in all the languages of the world is ours today. Now it is our turn, we are the witnesses.
3 Holy Spirit, prompt us
when we bow to pray;
speak within and teach us
what we ought to say.
We are the witnesses the ones called to tell the stories of Jesus. The parables that inspire and confuse, the healing stories from the bible and from our lives – those holy moments when God draws close to us are ours to share.
As we share the good news, we do this so alongside our brothers and sisters in Christ. The Holy Spirit that filled the disciples so long ago with the ability to speak with in all the languages of the world, is with us today, guiding and strengthening us. We've all been given gifts of the Spirit. Sometimes they are hard to spot but that doesn’t meant they aren’t there. Paul writes this: “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; …To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, … to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses. (1 Corinthians 12: 4 – 12)
Each of us has been given a gift of the spirit and when we work together as the body of Christ we can do anything.
4 Holy Spirit, help us
daily by your might,
what is wrong to conquer,
and to choose the right.