Acts 2:1-21 - Psalm 104:25-35, 37 - Romans 8:14-17 - John 14:8-17, 25-27
Homily for Pentecost Sunday, June 9, 2019 (The Rev. Liz Golub)
Come Holy Spirit, take our lips and speak through them; take our minds and think through them; take our hearts and set them on fire.
Today St. Michael’s and the diocese of Newark will honor 2 of our members: Nancy Eadie and Pauline Guzzo. I don’t have to tell you how much these 2 women have done for St. Michael’s. But I am pretty sure that neither one expected to have such illustrious careers as wardens.
When they accepted their positions they had no idea where it was all going to lead: the difficult decisions they would have to make and the pain and heartache of being misunderstood. But also the love and support of the rest of this community that they would receive.
I think that Pauline’s and Nancy’s experience mirror in some ways that of the disciples of the early church. They were already followers of Jesus; already committed to Jesus’ work in the world; but still had no idea what that was going to look like. Then the day of Pentecost arrived and suddenly the Holy Spirit descended on them in a new way with more power than they could ever imagine. On that day God gave us something awesome and priceless.
Our reading from Romans sums it up: For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. A spirit of adoption…one of God’s own heirs. The disciples also had to live into this new life, just like us. They had spent 3 years with Jesus, watching, learning and trying out the gifts of preaching and healing. But there was fear and trepidation, kind of like a toddler learning to walk.
Yet when Pentecost arrived and the tongues of fire settled on each of them they were filled with new power, Holy Spirit power that would take them beyond anything they had ever known: zooming from fear to boldness. They were uneducated men suddenly able to preach the message of salvation to all the different nationalities present in Jerusalem. It was the beginning of evangelism.
For the disciples living into the Holy Spirit was not business as usual. They dared to go out of their own comfort zones and moved beyond “the way things have always” been. It was a gradual process of changing their ways of thinking and doing it God’s ways. Baby steps we might say: one yes leading to another.
The disciples had no idea how far the Holy Spirit would take them in preaching the Good News. They had no idea that one day each of them would stand in the native country of one of the nationalities present on Pentecost. Little by little they learned to trust. They learned to preach with boldness. They endured suffering, rejection, and lack of unity in their own ranks. But they were the church.
They learned to care for one another in fellowship, outreach and mission, always with their eyes on the Lord. Constantly asking for more Holy Spirit power and gifts to do God’s work in the world because power generates power
So what about us? Do you see yourself in the experiences of the disciples? Maybe not so dramatically but the Holy Spirit is at work in us as individuals and as a community. Pentecost is a great gift to us because we need the Holy Spirit just to get through. We need Holy Spirit of wisdom and discernment to know where God is leading this church. We need the Holy Spirit of knowledge to make decisions and choose the right course of action and faith to believe that God does have a plan. We need the Holy Spirit in prophetic voices, daring to speak what Jesus may want to do in this place.
This is what it means to live by Holy Spirit power: not power of ourselves; not just by our individual brains or natural gifts but something much bigger that we have yet to discover. This is an exciting time because the Holy Spirit doesn’t just work in one person, but in all who ask. We are the Body of Christ. We don’t all receive the same gifts, but we all receive some gifts. Think about the ways you see Holy Spirit manifestations in this body: gifts of faith and hope; gifts of teaching and service; gifts of hospitality and healing and so many more.
Even if you feel like you have nothing to contribute you can ask for the gift of prayer and intercession. Ask the Holy Spirit to make you a prayer warrior and give you a heart to pray for the future of this church. Pray for a spirit of unity in the body; pray for wisdom for your lay leaders. Pray that the Holy Spirit will raise up new leaders to continue the work of the church. Finally, pray for hope. The disciples labored in some pretty bad circumstances; they endured suffering and death but they never gave up. For in this hope we are saved. Amen.