Monday, June 9, 2014

Sermon: Pentecost "Happy Birthday!"

Happy Birthday!
St. Thomas Episcopal, Richmond
Year A, Pentecost 2014

Happy birthday!  Really, happy birthday!  In a decade and a half, give or take a year or two, we will be two millennia old.  And when someone or something is in their one-thousand-nine-hundred-and-eighties, do we really need to quibble over a year or two?
Today is the birthday of the church, Pentecost, the 50th day since Easter.  Pente- five, pentecost, fifty in Greek.  People had arrived in the Temple from all over the world, Jews, believers in this desert God who were not Jewish, God-fearers they were called, for the Shavuot, the festival for the reception of the Law.  It was seven weeks since the second day of Passover.  After the giving of the 10 commandments, to know how to be good and in favor with God, what we see now is the fulfillment of the prophets, that Israel would be a “light unto the nations.”
In a small room, the remaining apostles and followers of Jesus were in prayer, when the Holy Spirit came upon them in power and glory.  It is described as tongues of flame resting on their heads.  And with that, they were sent out.  And preaching with vim and vigor, they went amongst those that were gathered at the Temple and spread the Good News that the Messiah had come.
People understood them in their own tongues.  No matter the stripe, people were brought into the Church.
A few weeks ago I spoke to the Holy Spirit, and how much I appreciated the emphasis in our church of the indwelling of the Spirit.  In a moment we will pray the Holy Spirit to surround and indwell Camille at her baptism.  It is a big day.
Now I apologize if this seems simplistic, but I wanted to make sure we were on the same page about the Holy Spirit and the Church, especially because of Pentecost and the baptism we are about to have.  If you could all do me a favor and open up your prayer books.  They are the smaller ones with the red covers, probably, and the cross on front.   And then turn to page 852.  I am going to read the Qs, the questions, and if you could read the As, the Answers.
The Holy Spirit

What is the Holy Spirit?
The Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Trinity, God at 
work in the world and in the Church even now.

How is the Holy Spirit revealed in the Old Covenant?
The Holy Spirit is revealed in the Old Covenant as the 
giver of life, the One who spoke through the prophets.

How is the Holy Spirit revealed in the New Covenant?
The Holy Spirit is revealed as the Lord who leads us into 
all truth and enables us to grow in the likeness of 

How do we recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit in 
our lives?
We recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit when we 
confess Jesus Christ as Lord and are brought into love 
and harmony with God, with ourselves, with our 
neighbors, and with all creation.

The Holy Spirit is God at work in the world and the Church even now.  This is not a there-and-then thing, this is a here-and-now thing.  The Spirit leads us into the likeness of Christ.  The Spirit brings us into a place of harmony with everything, God, ourselves, others, all creation.  This is the rest of the story.  This is to be continued.  This is the sequel.  This is what comes next.  
And what comes next is the Church, how we move forward with Christ’s work in the world.  So what is the Church.   Please turn to page 854 and 855.  Read with me “The Church.”   

The Church

What is the Church?
The Church is the community of the New Covenant.

How is the Church described in the Bible?
The Church is described as the Body of which Jesus 
Christ is the Head and of which all baptized persons are 
members. It is called the People of God, the New Israel, 
a holy nation, a royal priesthood, and the pillar and 
ground of truth.

How is the Church described in the creeds?
The Church is described as one, holy, catholic, and 

Why is the Church described as one?
The Church is one, because it is one Body, under one 
Head, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Why is the Church described as holy?
The Church is holy, because the Holy Spirit dwells in it, 
consecrates its members, and guides them to do God's 

Why is the Church described as catholic?
The Church is catholic, because it proclaims the whole 
Faith to all people, to the end of time.

Why is the Church described as apostolic?
The Church is apostolic, because it continues in the 
teaching and fellowship of the apostles and is sent 
to carry out Christ's mission to all people.

What is the mission of the Church?
The mission of the Church is to restore all people to 
unity with God and each other in Christ.

How does the Church pursue its mission?
The Church pursues its mission as it prays and 
worships, proclaims the Gospel, and promotes justice, 
peace, and love.

Through whom does the Church carry out its mission?
The church carries out its mission through the ministry 
of all its members.

The mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.  How? Through the ministry of all its members.  
Ah, the ministry of all its members.  The Holy Spirit in us gifts us with things that only we can do.  All of our gifts work together for what needs to happen and take place as God works in the world.  Today we are also asking you to Claim Your Ministry, and the cards are handed out.  We will gather those at the the Thanksgiving time.
There is an economy of God that is beyond our comprehension.  This is an economy where there is no waste.  This is an economy where every need is met, but often we need to open our eyes to see them.  This is an economy of blessings.  We are blessed to be a blessing.  We are blessed to change the world.
Think about it, on that first Pentecost did the disciples stay in that upper room saying, “Wow, cool flames?”  No, no, no, no, no.
They immediately went out.  They went out and met people where they were, and held nothing back.  They were so enthusiastic that people thought that they were drunk.  But others heard their words, and took them to heart.  I have been at the immersion cleansing tanks outside the doors to the Temple mount where many baptisms probably took place that day.
As we read in the Catechism, “The Church pursues its mission as it prays and worships, proclaims the Gospel, and promotes justice, peace, and love.”  We come to this altar for solace, but we also come seeking strength to go out.  
As joyful as these balloons are, it would be a sin for them to stay in here.  I would come in Wednesday for the Contemplative service and it would be sad, just sad.  A roomful of dead or almost dead balloons that were happy for an hour, and did not get used for the best in their limited lifespan.
When you leave, make sure that their is not a balloon left.  You have my permission and encouragement to take one home.
What would be an even greater sin, though, is for each of you to go out of here today and not remember that you are apostolic, you are being sent out to change the world.  You do it through prayer and worship.  You do it when you proclaim the Gospel.  And remember what St. Francis said, “Preach the Gospel at all times.  When necessary use words.”  You change the world when you promote justice, peace and love.  Go out, balloon in hand, and that sight alone might bring a spot of joy into someone’s life.
You have been blessed to be a blessing.  You have been sent to change the world.  Happy birthday!  Share that joy!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Hi! Thanks for wanting to comment. Please add it here, and after a moderator reviews it, it will be posted if appropriate. Look forward to hearing your opinion.
Blessings, Rock