Sunday, June 8, 2014

Sermon for the Day of Pentecost

Two stories of the disciples receiving the Holy Spirit.

One which is more familiar, tongues of fire landing on their heads, a great whooshing sound.
The other, Jesus coming to them and breathing on them.

Both involve the disciples being together inside together.

A bunch of people, who believe that Jesus is the messiah together, inside. Sounds very familiar.

In the gospel version of events, John tells us that
the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews.

They are inside, doors locked, because they are scared of those who might harm them, who might even kill them.

They lock the doors. They are safe. They are together.

Yet what can they do?

The outside world can’t get at them, but they can’t go and be with the world.

Fear has stopped them from being with others.

Again, sounds familiar.

We become stuck inside, and look at ourselves, and pray and do our stuff, but if we are honest, we are a bit scared of interacting with the world when it comes to the gospel.
Fear has us locking our doors and gates, for fear of those outside.

What would happen if they came in?
What would they think of us?
What would they do to us?
What would happen if they decided to stay with us?
What would that do to our time together?

We can hold on to what we are, who we are, or we can let go, and as happens to the disciples, receive the Holy Spirit.

Of course, we have received the Holy Spirit, as the reading from Acts tells us, no one can say Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.

Jesus is Lord.

So it isn’t a matter of us receiving the Holy Spirit, he is already with us.
Rather, it is a matter of us recognising his presence with us, waking up and letting go.

To let go and be guided, inspired and given life by the Holy Spirit is where we are up to.
To let go, to see, feel, smell, taste, to know, where he is working within us,
as a church, as a parish, as a congregation, as one of God’s children.

All of us have been given gifts
Paul tells us:
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.

To each is given a manifestation of the spirit for the common good.
Each one of us has been given a gift which is the Holy Spirit working within us.
A gift for the common good of the mission of the church.
Some of you may know what yours is.
Some of you may still be unsure.
I don’t think it is a static thing.

You may have the gift of public speaking, but it may only be for a time.
A time when what you were able to say and the way you were able to say was important.
Then it may be gone.
Like the disciples in Acts.
They were given the gift of being able to speak in all languages, as that was what was needed at that time.

I believe as a parish we have the people we need with the gifts they have for the common good of our mission.
I believe what we need for our work is already here.
It is up to us to release ourselves from what was, and enter into what will be.

Letting go is not easy.
It means entering into a period of time where we don’t know what is going to happen, when we aren’t in control of what is going to happen,
Where we can’t guarantee we will even agree with what is going to happen.

Jesus says to the disciples:
Receive the Holy Spirit.
The Greek which is translated to receive is not quite that passive. It is more like take.

The inspiration of the Holy Spirit is not something that we receive passively,
rather it is something that we meet with personal effort.
That effort will be in a prayer life together, and as individuals.
It will be by being aware that we can receive the inspiration.
It will be by being aware that we will know that we will know we are being inspired by the Holy Spirit.
Those moments when an idea appears.

That is waking up.

Then comes letting go.
Being open to where that takes us.

Letting go and letting the Holy Spirit be our guide and comforter,
to let him be the one that gives us courage, strength and life for what lies ahead is where are now.

Come Holy Spirit.
Be our guide, be our strength, be our comfort, be our peace.
Come Holy Spirit, Come.

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