Sermons 2006

The King Jesus Fire-Baptized Holy Spirit Church, Pentecost , 4 June, Acts 2:1-11; Jn 20:19-23

Home | "Light and Darkness", Christmas 2C, 31 December 2006, John 1:1-18 | Christmas Eve and Christmas Day 2006 | "What then shall we do?", Advent 3C , 17 December 2006, Luke 3:7-18 | "Luke's Gospel", Advent 1C, 3 Dec 2006, Luke 21:25-31 | Which Jesus? Proper 29B 2006, 26 November 2006, John 18:33-37 | Apocalypticism and Fundamentalism, Proper 28B, 19 Nov 2006, Daniel12; Mark 13:14-23 | "The Widow's Mite: All and Everything", Proper 27B, 12 November 2006, Mark 12:38-44 | "The Commandments to love God, Neighbor, One Another" Proper 26B, 5 November 2006, Mark 12:28-34 | "Sight -- and Seeing" Proper 25B, 29 October 2006, Mark 10:46-52 | "Baptism: Overwhelming Washing", Proper 24B, 22 October 2006 Mark 10:35-45 | "God's Transforming Love", Proper 23B, 15 October 2006, Mark 10:17-31 | "Divorce", Proper 22B, 8 February 2006, Mark 10: 2-9 | "Hard Sayings and Sharp Words", Proper 21B, 1 October 2006, Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48 | "First or Last?" Proper 20B, 24 September 2006, Mark 9:30-37 | "Unintended Consequences", Proper 19B, 17 September 2006, Mark 8:27-38 | "Ephphatha! Open up!" Proper 18B, 10 September 2006, Mark 7:31-37 | "Rituals", Proper 17B, 3 September 2006, Deuteronomy 4:1-9; Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23 | "Choices." Proper 16B, 30 August 2006, Joshua 24:1-2a, 14-25; John 6:60-69 | "Come to the Table." Proper 15B, 20 August 2006, John 6:53-59 | "Do not be afraid." Proper 12B, 30 July 2006, Mark6:45-52 | "General Convention and Jesus' Compassion", Proper 11B, 23 July 2006, Mark 6: 30-44 | "Basics for the Journey", Proper 10B, 16 July 2006, Mark 6:7-13 | "Jesus and Rejection", Proper 9B, 9 July 2006, Mark 6:1-6 | "Trust, Faith, and Belief" Proper 8B, 2 July 2006, Mark 5:22-43 | "Storms, Fear, and Faith" Proper 7B, 25 June 2006, Mark 4:35-41 | Mighty things from Small, Proper 6B, 18 June 2006, Mark 4:26-34 | Trinity, Pentecost 1, 11 June 2006, Exodus 3:1-6; John 3:1-16 | The King Jesus Fire-Baptized Holy Spirit Church, Pentecost , 4 June, Acts 2:1-11; Jn 20:19-23 | "That they may be one" General Convention 2006, Easter 7B 28 May 2006, John 5:9-15 | "Friends, friendship, and love" Easter 6B, 21 May 2006, John 15:9-17 | Mother's Day, two mothers' love!" Easter 5B, 14 April 2006, John 14:15-21 | "Interesting, this Good Shepherd!" Easter 4B, 7 May 2006, John 10:11-16 | "How do you prove you are alive?", Easter 3B, 30 April 2006, Luke 24:36b-48 | "Do you believe because...." Easter 2B, 23 April 2006, John 20:19-31 | "He goes before you to Galilee...." Easter B 2006, 16 April, Mark 16:1-8 | "Journey into darkness", Palm Sunday B, 9 April 2006. Mark 11:1-11, 14:32-15:47 | "Sir, we would see Jesus!" Lent 5B, 2 April 2006, John 12:20-33 | "Miracles and Faith, Ordinary and Not", Lent 4B 2006, 26 March 2006, John 6:4-15 | "Rage, Rampage, and Outrage", Lent 3B, 19 March 2006, John 2: 13-22 | "Images of the Cross", Lent 2B, 12 March 2006, Mark 8:31-38 | "Baptism, Temptation, Redemption," Lent 1B, 5 March 2005, Mark 1:9-13 | Ash Wednesday , 1 March 2006, Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 | ""Nanny McPhee' and transfiguration", Epiphany Last B, Mark 9:2-9 | "Jesus, leprosy, and the law of Moses", Epiphany 6B, 12 February 2006, Mark 1:40-45 | "Healing, wholeness, forgiveness, and love", Epiphany 5B, 5 February 2006, Mark 1:29-39 | "Haints, Unclean spirits, and demons" Epiphany 4B, 22 January 2006, Mark 1:21-28 | Epiphany 3B, 22 January 2006, "God's Call -- and Our Response", Mark 1:14-20 | Epiphany 2B, 15 January 2006, "Call and Response", John 1:43-51 | Epiphany 1B, 8 January 2006, "The Baptism of our Lord -- and Ours", Mark 1:7-11 | The Holy Name, 1 January 2006, Luke 2: 15-21

Pentecost B 2006 Acts 2:1-11, John 20:19-23

Early on during my time here I wrote a Reflections article for an early edition of our newsletter -- I think it was about Pentecost – it was long enough ago that I don’t remember exactly whether it was about Pentecost or not, perhaps only that it was a good story. In it, I told the story of a storefront church in the southwestern mountains of Virginia. This struggling little mountain congregation had a huge sign in the front window: The King Jesus Fire Baptized Holy Spirit Church. A boyhood friend of mine in South Carolina, where such churches were not uncommon, called me as soon as he read about it. He said that he would pay for the construction and erection of the same sign out front here on Route 200 if I would agree to the project. I think I laughed and hung up.

There are times when I wish I had considered it more seriously.

Perhaps a useful thing on this Pentecost in this place and in this time is to look again briefly at what Pentecost really is, The King Jesus Fire Baptized Holy Spirit Church of the time immediately after the ascension of King Jesus, the first major event after our Lord was no longer with us.

First, the meaning of Pentecost in Jewish history suggests a new "take" on our observance of the feast in worship. The word "Pentecost" is based on the Greek word for 50; Pentecost was a feast observed 50 days after the Passover. One purpose of the day was a spring harvest festival: a time of thanksgiving to God for the earth's bounty as required by the Law of the Torah set forth in References to this feast may be found in Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy.

Another theme of Pentecost was commemoration of the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai. Moses' encounter with God on Sinai was accompanied by lightning, fire, and wind –the Ruach Yahweh. And the events in Jerusalem are described in terms of divine fire and divine wind/Spirit. Both the Decalogue (literally, ten words) and the Holy Spirit are gifts from a righteous and loving God, and the faithful human response to such gifts is gratitude and obedience.

The third theme, taking the Gospel from John for today, when Jesus breathed upon his disciples after his Resurrection and ordered them to receive the Holy Spirit, and the Acts passage, when the first King Jesus Fire Baptized Holy Spirit Church was born on that first Day of Pentecost – this third theme is how hard it is to live into Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit. The disciples didn’t get it at first – they didn’t get a lot of it at first. It took the violence of wind and fire to get their attention, to overcome their fears, and to get on with their mission to the world.

And finally for Christians: When we retell the story and the history of Pentecost, with its symbols of wind and fire, gift and response we in a real sense – the technical word is anamnesis whose English translation is liturgical remembering—we in a real sense are there with Moses on mountaintop with the burning bush, with the disciples on that Pentecost of flame and wind and voices, whether we can see the flames or not, whether we can feel the wind or not, whether we can hear the different tongues or not. When we really enter into the anamnesis of that first Day of Pentecost, we are close to being The King Jesus Fire Baptized Holy Spirit Church. And we, too, like the disciples gathered together in one place can get on with our mission into the world.

But over the time between then and now we lost sight of the real power of that event. The feast of Pentecost originally concluded the great fifty days of celebration that began at Easter. Its rites were exactly comparable to those observed at the beginning of the season-the long vigil service, the baptisms, and the concluding sunrise service; but, because of the great dignity of the festival it was tamed – after all having ones head on fire is unpleasant to contemplate. First, it soon took on an extended season of its own. By the tenth century the Feast of the Trinity began to displace the eight day long Pentecost celebration. In the Church of England after the Reformation, Cranmer’s Prayer Books did away with the long Pentecostal season entirely. As devotees of the 1928 Prayer Book can remember, the Sundays after Pentecost Sunday were devoted to the Trinity Sunday and the Sundays after Trinity.

We have recovered the Pentecost customs of the Early Church with its long season, although we retain Trinity Sunday, instituted in the early 10th Century. But have we recovered the part about The King Jesus Fire Baptized Holy Spirit Church?

The English and other northern European churches also called Pentecost Sunday 'White Sunday' from the white garments worn by the newly baptized on this day: Climatic conditions in northern lands made this feast more favored for the conferring of baptism than Easter. English tradition also used “Whitsunday,” from the Old English word whit, meaning to renew – that fits, when you think about it.

Consider the Collect for today. This Collect harks back to the Sixth Century early Medieval Church at the time of Gregory the Great. This was the time in which the Church had come to accept fully that although Christ might return at any time, it wasn’t likely to be as soon as the First and Second Century Church believed. And so the task was to live as if, as if the Second Coming was imminent, but to survive in the world if it were not. The noteworthy point in this Collect is its teaching that we may rejoice in the comfort (i.e. strength) of the Holy Spirit only if we allow Him to guide our judgment 'in all things. The Spirit first illumines our minds with the discernment of true and righteous courses of action, and then He strengthens our wills so that we may accomplish His will with joy in the time between the First Coming and the Second.

As soon as Luke-Acts became widespread in the Early Church, Acts 2:1-1 was read every Sunday. This account of the Church's first Pentecost, when the Spirit descended upon the disciples, was considered so significant by the Third Evangelist – Saint Luke -- that he made it the key to his whole story of the spread of the gospel throughout the world: for the Spirit empowered the apostles to preach boldly the good news about Jesus, even in the very city from which they had fled in fear after the Lord's arrest, trial, and crucifixion. The occasion on that first day of Pentecost was auspicious. Many pilgrims from all the provinces of the Empire were in Jerusalem to celebrate the harvest festival, and the proclamation of the gospel at this time would ensure for it as quick and as far-reaching an extension as possible.

For Saint Luke, however, there was a deeper meaning in this event than its mere historical significance. It was the inauguration of a new dispensation of grace superseding the old covenant of the Law, the giving of which, as we have stated above, the Jews commemorated at Pentecost. The new law, just as the old, was given in a marvelous aura of wind and tire. Saint Luke’s Gospel is telling us that this is the fulfillment of the prediction of the last prophet of Israel, John that Baptist, that the One who would come after him would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire' (Matt. 3:11; Luke 3:16). A new thing was created, sweeping away the old which had gone astray and awry.
And the first King Jesus Fire Baptized Holy Spirit Church was born.

Note: Liturgical discussion adapted in part from Massey Hamilton Shepherd, Jr., The Oxford American Prayer Book Commentary, NY: 1950, pp 180-182.

Wicomico Parish Church
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Wicomico Church, Virginia 22579