Lectionary Year B
June 8, 2003
John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15
(FS) C. ADDRESS
"GOD IS STILL WITH US!"
Intro.-- Pentecost! It's a day that makes many presbyterians squirm with
discomfort. Of course, it's about a rush of wind, and tongues of fire, and
the first great evangelistic sermon.
It's also about Jesus keeping a promise made to his disciples. It was a
moment that knotted the throat with grief. He announced his coming
departure, but added that it would not be the end.
I. JESUS PROMISED TO SEND THE HOLY SPIRIT.
A. The Greek word "Paraclete" is translated in different ways in many
Bibles. Those words capture at least a portion of what the Spirit does for
us: "Comforter"; "Helper"; "Advocate"; etc.
B. The disciples would not be left alone. Jesus promised the Spirit! The
word "Emmanuel" would still mean "GOD WITH US"...God with us in Jesus
Christ, through the Holy Spirit!
C. God with us to comfort us; to teach us; to guide us. On the Day of
Pentecost, with a rush of wind and with "power from above", that promise was
made reality. This morning, we remember -- and rejoice! -- that God is
still with us!
II. THE SPIRIT IS WITH US, AND ALIVE IN US. FULFILLING THE WORK OF WHICH
A. The Spirit would "convince the world of sin". The Church is so
painfully vulnerable and fragile in the world. Idi Amin tried his best to
destroy the Church in Uganda in the 1970s. And out of all the suffering and
bloodshed the Spirit spoke through Festo Kivingere, astounding the world:
"I love Idi Amin!"
Through the words of Scripture, through the words of God's people, the
Spirit shows the world the grace and truth of God-- standing its
expectations and values on end.
B. The Spirit would "lead the Church into all truth", revealing more about
God and Jesus. It's an ongoing process. Jesus warned the disciples that
they would have to learn more truth than they bargained for, more than they
could bear at present, but the Spirit would lead them.
"Lord, you want me to go baptize SAUL OF TARSUS? haven't you
heard what he's been doing to your people?" "What do you mean, we're
going to let Gentiles into the Church without circumcizing them first!?"
C. In every time and place, the people of God have had to ask difficult and
painful questions. We have ours, too. And not all of them are neatly
packaged and tagged for us in the Scriptures.
1. "How can we preserve our heritage and language...without
losing our young people to other churches?"
2. "How can...how will...what will we do?"
D. Jesus warns his disciples that the questions and issues will keep
rearing up. But he also assures them that they will not be alone: they
will have the Holy Spirit.
III. JESUS KEPT THAT PROMISE. AND THE SPIRIT IS STILL WITH US.
A. The Spirit still lights up the Scriptures for us, helping us to
hear a word from God.
B. The Spirit still guides us...through answered prayers; through
the opening and closing of doors; through the collective voice
of the Church, gathered prayerfully and expectantly.
C. And at this table, where we rejoice in the Communion of the body that
was broken to make us whole and the blood that was shed to cleanse us, we
are reminded that we are not alone. In Jesus Christ, by the Holy Spirit, God
is still with us. God is still with us!
NOTE: The church I serve celebrates the Eucharist at Pentecost.
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