Pentecost Sunday – 2018

PentB18.   Acts of the Apostles 2:1-11.  Jesus, the Love, the Center, the Light of their lives had ascended, gone away into the heavens.  They were now without him. Jesus had promised the Spirit and so they waited.  When the Holy Spirit came, he came in great power. “Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them.”  The Holy Spirit came to set their tongues on fire so that their words might instill a burning desire in their hearers to be devoted to Jesus as their life-giving God.  The Apostles spoke to a crowd of vastly different languages, yet they heard “them speaking in (their) own tongues of the mighty acts of God.”  The Spirit works today, ordinarily not with such a spectacular show, nonetheless with great, quiet power for those whose hearts welcome him.

John 20:19-23 & 15:26-27; 16:12-15.  John’s gospel has Pentecost and Easter occurring on the same day.  For John, Jesus comes on Easter to give the Holy Spirit to the Apostles so that they may go and bring to holiness those who wished to be saved from their sins.  In the second Gospel option, Jesus says, “the Spirit of truth” “will guide you to all truth,” which he receives from the Son who had received it from the Father, the Trinity working together as the one God.  In John’s gospel the word ‘truth’ is used 52 times, and yet even more times in the epistles.  The ‘truth’ means that we belong to what is genuinely real for all eternity, not what people would like to call the truth but what is only invented to make them feel good, or what they would like to think, or what is in fashion today.  That latter so called ‘truth’ are the lies which the devil uses to deliver us to his realm of darkness, away from the light that is God himself.  The truth that the Spirit brings to us is a continuation of what Jesus had brought to his followers when he was on earth.  God, the Holy Spirit uses the bible, the Church’s magisterium or teaching authority and all forms of teaching as instruments to guide us to all truth.

1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13.  “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.”  All good that is truly good comes radically from God, the only true source of genuine goodness.  All that we do, think or say that is good comes from the work of God. In Matthew 16: 16-17, “Simon Peter said in reply, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus said to him in reply, ‘Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.’”  In other words, Peter did not figure this all out on his own but God moved him to recognize the truth of who Jesus was.  If the preacher preaches in such a way that we are moved to be a holier people, that is the work of the Spirit in the preacher and in those who hear his words and not something they do on their own apart from God.  To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.  It is the work of the Spirit to build up the church by giving different gifts to different individuals.  It is the “same God who produces all of them in everyone.” “We are all given to drink of one Spirit.”

Galatians 5:16-25.  “Live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh.”  Here Paul is not writing about the necessary, nutritional demands our bodies make on us to live from day to day but on the illicit cravings that our bodily nature might tempt us to.  The fruit of the Spirit are the good actions that God calls us to.  “Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live in the Spirit, let us also follow the Spirit.”