Sermons 2005

"Receive the Holy Spirit" Pentecost , 15 May 2005, John 20: 19-23

Home | "The One who is coming after me", Advent 2B, 4 December 2005, Mark 1:1-8 | "Stay awake. Be alert" Advent 1B, 27 November 2005, Mark13:24-37 | "Black Hat vs White Hat" Proper 26A, 30 October 2005, Matthew 23:1-12 | "Sheep and Goats -- again!" Proper 29A, 20 November 2005, Matthew 25:31-46 | "The Greatest Commandment" Proper 25A, 23 October 2005 Matthew 22: 34-46 | God and Caesar, Proper 24A, 16 October 2005, Matthew 22:15-22 | The Wedding Banquet, Proper 23A, 9 October 2005, Matthew 22:1-14 | The Landlord and the Tenants, Proper 22A , 2 October 2005, Matthew 21:33-43 | "Who will go?" Proper 21A, 25 September 2005, Matthew 21:28-32 | "The Last shall be first", Proper 20A, 18 September 2005, Matthew 20:1-16 | "Forgiveness, grace, and mercy", Proper 19A, 11 September 2005, Matthew 18:21-35 | "But who do YOU say that I am?" Proper 16A, 21 August 2005, Matthew 16:13-20 | "O God, how can we sing to you...." Katrina Relief, 4 September 2005 | "The kingdom of heaven is like...." Proper 12A, 24 July 2005, Matthew 13:31-33, 44-49a | "The wheat and the tares", Proper 11A, 17 July 2005, Matthew 13: 24-30, 36-43 | "Ears to listen", Proper 10A, 10 July 2005, Matthew 15:1-9, 18-23 | "A cup of cold water", Proper 8A, 26 June 2005, Matthew 10:34-42 | "Heseth: lovingkindness, not sacrifice", Proper 5A , 5 June 2005, Matthew 9:9-13; Hosea 6:6 | Trinity: A Theological Exploration, 22 May 2005, Matthew 28:16-20 | The Baptism of Parker Benjamin Throckmorton, Pentecost Sunday, 15 May 2005 | "Receive the Holy Spirit" Pentecost , 15 May 2005, John 20: 19-23 | "Unity or schism?" Easter 7A, 8 May 2005, John 17:1-11 | "Abide in me", Easter 6A, 1 May 2005, John 15:1-8 | "The Way, the Truth, and the Life", Easter 5A , 24 April 2005, John 14:1-14 | "Saint Thomas the Doubter", Easter 2A, 3 April 2005, John 20:19-31 | "The Lord is Risen Indeed!", Easter A , 27 March 2005, Matthew 28:1-10; John 20:1-18 | "The Shadow of the Cross", Passion Sunday A, 20 March 2005, Matthew 26:36-27:66 | Raising of Lazarus", Lent 5A, 13 March 2005, Ezekiel 37:1-14; John 11:1-44 | "Who are the blind?" Lent 4A, 6 March 2005, John 9:1-38 | "Water and Living Water", Lent 3A, 27 February 2005, John 4:5-42 | Baptized and Born Again", Lent 2A, 20 February 2005, John 3:1-17 | Temptation and the Kingdom of God, Lent 1A, 13 February 2005, Matthew 4:1-11 | "'Tis good to be here, " Epiphany Last A, 6 February 2005, Matthew 17:1-9 | "Follow me!" Epiphany 3A, 23 January 2005, Matthew 4:12-23 | "Come and See!" Epiphany 2A, 16 January 2005, John 1:29-41 | The Baptism of our Lord -- and Ours, Epiphany 1A, 9 January 2005, Matthew 3:13-17 | Christmas 2A: The Tsunami, God, and our Neighbor", Matthew 2, 2 January 2005 | Next Sunday to be posted soon

Pentecost 2005 Acts2.1-11; l Cor12.4-13; Jn20.19-3

Today is Pentecost. Pentecost is traditionally regarded as the birthday of the Church and we mark the event with red hangings, the color of fire. Wind and fire are signs of the Holy Spirit and so the material stuff of the day is rich with symbols.

Our three lessons for today give us diverse points of
view about what Pentecost means. In St. John's gospel the disciples are hovering together in a locked room, a frightened little band, hardly the stuff of the martyrs which many of them later became. And Jesus appears in the midst of them.

Only Mary Magdalene has seen the Risen Christ so far on that Easter Day, according to John. So the male disciples all see him at the same time. And they rejoiced to see him. But they were still afraid.

And three significant things happen. Jesus says to them, Shalom: Peace be with you. Calm down, don't be afraid. I have something for you to do. And then he commissions them. "As the Father sent me, so I send you."

The disciples have experience with what Jesus was sent to do, so they know what he means. But they probably weren't too sure they wanted to do it. After all they had gathered behind locked doors for a reason: they were afraid that what had happened to Jesus would happen to them. And it eventually did to many of them. None of them wanted to be crucified. Their weak humanity just wasn't up to it, not right then anyway.

Jesus knew these men well. He knew all their fears and weaknesses. He understood that what he was about
to ask them to do was possible only with special help. The
sort of special help we all need when we are frightened and
tired. And so he breathed on them. The holy breath of God, he breathed on them.

And he said to these weak frightened, huddled together disciples of his, "Receive the Holy Spirit."
Receive the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit who guards us
and guides us. The Holy Spirit who protects us and
strengthens us. The Holy Spirit who enables us to carry out
God's work in the world. Receive the Holy Spirit. Let the Spirit of God be upon you. Shalom: peace be with you.

Receive the Holy Spirit so that we may do the work that Jesus has set for his Church to do in this difficult and troublesome world in which we live. The living in the Holy Spirit that we do even when there are no good answers to the deepest questions of our being. The work that we have been called to do as the Church because there is no one else to do it.

Receive the Holy Spirit. In Saint Luke’s account, the Holy Spirit comes with fire and flame. The Holy Spirit comes upon them like the wind of a storm, filling and shaking the house in which they were sitting, shaking it like an earthquake.

They are not so afraid this time, these human disciples. They know that Christ has risen and ascended.
And they believe his promise that he would send the Holy
Spirit to equip them for their task. And so the wind comes, the Holy Spirit of God on the wind, the fiery breath of God, filling the house. The Holy Spirit descending with fire, tongues of flame hovering over each of their heads.

What a glorious sight it must have been, this fiery,
blazing, house shaking descent of the Holy Spirit. Oh, to
have been there, to have felt the fire in our hearts as the Holy Spirit descended upon us, not like a sweet peaceful dove, but in the storm and wind and fire.

Receive the Holy Spirit. It can be a little scary sometimes to be touched by the Holy Spirit. To use the gift the Holy Spirit gives us. But Shalom: peace be with you.

Several years ago I was on a retreat at Shrinemont with another parish. This was a particularly laid back group.
The only thing on their agenda was for the adults to play the youth group in softball on Saturday. But because it was raining there was an alternate project for anyone who cared to participate: we were to make a banner symbolizing the Holy Spirit.

We pinned brightly colored pieces of cloth to the basic banner. It was a descending dove, trailing flame and
fire as it descended on the wind. It was dynamic. It was
powerful. and it hung in the church for the next year to
remind us of the power of the Holy Spirit.

Receive the Holy Spirit. Let the Spirit of God be upon
you. Shalom: peace be with you. Receive the Holy Spirit so that we may do the work that Jesus has set for his Church
to do.

And the Holy Spirit brings to us the gifts to carry out that work. Saint Paul’s list in the epistle for today is not complete; he never intended it to be. We Episcopalians once took some pride in our unity in diversity. Somehow in recent years we seem in some places to have lost sight of this. But unity and appreciation of the gifts of others, said Saint Paul, are among the necessary things that make a church:

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit;
{5} and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord;
{6} and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. {7} To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

Although we're a pretty uniform group here at first glance, at second glance it is obvious that we don't all think or act the same way. But we are one in our love for the Lord and for each other – and for the Church that has nurtured us. And we are grateful for all our talents and gifts, everyone of them.

All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body--Jews or Greeks, slaves or free, male or female--and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. (1Cor12:11-13)

Jesus said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” The Holy Spirit who guards and guides us. The Holy Spirit who protects us and strengthens us. The Holy Spirit who enables us to carry out God's work in the world.

What is it like for you when the Holy Spirit descends on you? For me it has been a heart filled with fire as an
adolescent at church camp, a filling up of the spirit in a sunny wooded glen one hot June afternoon. But it has also been a quiet rekindling awareness of the peace of God in a life that has been through its troubled and dangerous moments. And a renewed awareness that God isn't
through with me yet, that Jesus loves me, and that I've still much to do in his Name.

And it has been an awareness of the presence of the
Holy Spirit -- usually after the fact -- giving me the strength to go on, even to argue with God along the way of my own soul's journey.

Receive the Holy Spirit. Receive the Holy Spirit who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine. (Eph3:20)

Receive the Holy Spirit.


Wicomico Parish Church, Wicomico Church, Virginia 22579