Rushing Wind, The Sound of Ministry
Day of Pentecost-A, June 4, 2017
1 Corinthians 12:3-13; Acts 2:1-21; John 7:37-39
What do you think was the purpose for the Coming of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost? Two issues from today’s lessons give us a start: (1) From Luke’s Acts of the Apostles: “Everyone who calls on the Lord will be saved”. And (2) From Paul’s letter to the Corinthians: “No one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.” Paul raises these issues because God is trying to save us from ourselves and The Holy Spirit Is God’s Gift to Equip Us To Be in Relationship With God.
God is trying to redeem His Creation. Jesus, is God is Human Flesh. God entered His creation within a human body to reach humans – to save us from the consequences of disobedience to his instructions on how to live a life that will result in the restoration of a face-to-face relationship with our creator.
Throughout the Bible God’s Spirit is presented as being always present with every human being. Beginning with Jesus, the Spirit begins to move into a more intimate relationship with us. Jesus said to his disciples: “You know the Spirit. He has been with you; soon he will be in you.” At Pentecost the Spirit became a personal part of the life of all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
Without the gift of the Holy Spirit dwelling inside our souls it would be impossible to live the Christian life, growing in the personality traits – the fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22ff); witnessing about Jesus; praying for others for healing, for forgiveness of sin, for reconciliation and for the strength to endure the trials, tribulations and temptations of life. Without the gift of the Holy Spirit there would be no church as we have experienced it.
Conversion to a personal relationship with the risen Jesus Christ would be impossible. Men, women, and youth, engaging in life-changing ministry in and through the Church would be impossible. Without the work of the Holy Spirit in Zak’s life there would be no “Silly Sock Saturday” ministry. Pentecost marked a transition from a ministry of watching Jesus to a Spirit-filled life of doing Jesus’ ministry. Because of the Holy Spirit St. Paul was able to write these
Instructions From 1 Corinthians 12:
In verse three, Paul writes, “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit.” Paul wasn’t saying it would be impossible for non-believers to say the words, ‘Jesus is Lord’. An actor can say words the script calls for; and people can say whatever they have been taught about God. On 9-11, the men flying airplanes into America’s buildings were all shouting, “God is great!”; but do you think that was Holy Spirit inspired? St. Paul is teaching us that for a human being to make the spiritual confession that Jesus is the Lord of his or her life occurs only through the action of the Holy Spirit working in that person’s soul. God the Holy Spirit unites our hearts and spirits with Jesus, the Lord of all life.
Paul goes on to teach that the same Spirit who unites us to Almighty God also empowers us with the spiritual ability needed so we can be participants in Jesus’ ministry of reconciliation. In verses 4, 5, and 6, Paul lays out a paradigm that links the Triune God with us and us with Christ’s ministry. I like the New American Standard Bible’s translation for these verses. In verse 4, Paul writes 4Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. Paul links receiving spiritual gifts with the Holy Spirit.
In verse 5, he writes, 5And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. Paul links ministries we participate in with Jesus. In 2 Corinthians 5:17-18, Paul writes, 17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:
So, we have gifts from the Spirit. We have Ministry from Jesus. And, in verse 6, Paul concludes the paradigm: 6There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. God the Spirit equips us. God the Son calls us into His ministry of reconciliation, and God the Father takes responsibility for the effect our ministry has. I hope you grasp what good news that is. We are responsible for our earnest efforts. God Himself accepts the responsibility for the effect. We can feel led by the Spirit to pray for someone’s healing, but we are not responsible for the healing occurring. Isn’t God a great and gracious God?
The paradigm is now complete: Gifts through the Spirit. Ministry through Jesus. Effects through God Himself. Paul states one other thing in verse 7: 7But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
Pentecost was not about a gang of guys getting a spiritual booster shot so they could feel better about Jesus’ death. It was about Jesus coming back to His disciples through the agency and ministry of the Holy Spirit so that He could better fulfill His father’s call to reconcile the world unto Himself. Because of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit has now been poured out on human flesh – on everyone who believes that Jesus is his or her Lord and Savior. Now, the Spirit-driven ministry of Jesus is alive in each of us. And, if each of us will allow the Holy Spirit to guide us into that place within the body of Christ – the Church – where God has shaped us to fit, then Jesus’ ministry will take place in a magnificent display of God’s love, mercy, grace and demonstrations of power. Then what was written in the last sentences of our lessons from Acts and 1st Corinthians will be fulfilled: Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – Jews or Greeks , slaves or free – and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. There is a song that says: “We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord; and we pray that all unity will one day be restored.”
God is calling Holy Cross to be a community of loving Christians committed to building bridges into each other’s lives, and to God. We accept each other where we are, knowing what we can become in Christ. We are a community of faith and grace: we believe in the Gospel story of Jesus Christ, and we live out that faith in acts of love and service to others; and we forgive others because we have been forgiven so much. Though many different individuals we are one in Christ. Our Baptismal Covenant calls us to live such a life. We also participate in a meal that is
The Symbol of That Unity
We have are saved, baptized, unified, drinking of one Spirit, Christ followers. It is the sacrament of Holy Communion that symbolizes all that. The communion rail is where the body of Christ present at this time and place gathers to remember who is the head of the Body. It is Jesus. He, alone, is Lord!
At the communion rail we gather to remember that we are sinners saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 2:8). At the communion rail we gather to visualize that we are all in this together. We need each other’s gifts and ministries. None of us can do it alone. God didn’t intend it that way. We each exist for the common good. We are not Lone Ranger Christians. We are parts of the same Body of Christ.
At the communion rail we gather to open our hands and hearts. We open our hands as a symbol of letting go of our supposed control of this life. We let go of temporal things and God fills us with eternal things.
We open our hearts because we realize we don’t know it all, and we still need help navigating through the dangerous waters of this life. We open our hearts of self-control and empty ourselves of self-will. Then God fills us with Jesus. Now, we have a chance for the fruit of the Spirit – the personality traits of Jesus Christ – to grow in us. Galatians 5:22 lists those traits of Jesus that the Holy Spirit is trying to grow in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control;… .
When you come to the Communion Rail today there are several needs you might consider: Do you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior? If not, ask Him to forgive you of your sin and fill you with His Holy Spirit. If you know you believe in Jesus but haven’t experienced that sense of empowerment by the Spirit that equips you to participate in Jesus’ ministry of reconciliation, then ask Jesus to baptize you with His Holy Spirit. If you have been holding onto some serious anger, resentment or bitterness toward someone else then purpose to forgive that person and ask God to forgive you; then let the Holy Spirit wash you clean before you receive the sacrament of forgiveness.
Today is Pentecost. It is time for the sound of a mighty rushing wind again to blow through our lives and our ministry at Holy Cross.
John, the Revelator, wrote: 17The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life. (Revelation 22:17)
When the usher invites you to come to Jesus, Come! And See For Yourself.