Monday, June 5, 2017

We've Got the Spirit!

John 20
June 5, 2017

We have two stories of Pentecost today.
Two times that the disciples were given the Holy Spirit
made new and basically collected
 together as Christ’s church.

The first one we get from Acts we hear every year:
Jesus has been resurrected and making
appearances for the last 50 days.
Then he ascends into heaven in front of everyone.
He’s really gone now.

After this, the disciples are gathered together in a house,
it seems to be some kind of open courtyard house,
since lots of other people join them later.
And then some mysterious rushing loud wind,
the text calls it a violent wind,
and it fills the place,
their heads catch on fire.

Then lots of other people come to see
what all the ruckus was about,
and they are all from different countries
and they speak different languages,
but for some reason,
 these country hicks from Galilee can speak all of their languages,
They don’t even have to translate,
the word touches their heart directly and they understand.
so, of course, some of the crowd assumes they’re drunk.

And then this Spirit gives Peter the ability to preach
to everyone, and it moves them, it “Cuts them to the heart”,
and even though we don’t hear that part today,
as a result three thousand people became baptized believers
and they start to share everything they have with each other.
Very exciting. This story of the Spirit is like an action movie.

And then in the Gospel, we have another one
which we usually hear the week after Easter.
It’s Sunday night before the disciples know that Jesus had risen.
They are are in a locked room, alone talking,
probably about Jesus crucifixion
which was still hard for them to believe.
Someone has suggested they were fighting with each other.
Then, quietly, Jesus appears in the
room even though the doors were locked.
There’s just the 11 of them,
Jesus doesn’t even have to raise his voice,
he says, quietly “Peace be with you.”
and then he breathes on them and says
“Here’s the Holy Spirit.
If you forgive sins, they’re forgiven, if not they’re retained.”
And the next time Jesus comes, they’re still in that room.

These are two very different experiences of the Holy Spirit.
It’s like the extroverts version and the introverts version.

Which one do you like?
Which one would you rather experience?
Which one is the right one?

Well, of course they’re both right in their own way.
They’re different versions of what the authors know to be true:
That there was some mysterious force
from God which has been binding the people
who believe together into one body
and motivating this body to act in Christ’s place.

The people of the early church knew what we know now.
Something makes us move and act and follow Christ’s lead.
Something gives us peace and lets us know we are forgiven.
There is something, besides obligation or habit,
that has been drawing us and others together as people of God
and enables us to do what we thought was impossible.

That is the Holy Spirit, The Advocate, the Sustainer,
The Holy Ghost, the Breath of Life, Spirit of Fire,
The power from the most high, The Counselor,
The Spirit of Knowledge, The Dove, The Spirit of Truth,
the Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding.
The Spirit has many different names
 and is experienced in many different ways.

Sometimes we feel it in these rushing exploding moments,
and some it’s in peaceful quiet times.
Sometimes the Spirit is the thing that brings us peace and consolation.
Sometimes we can’t sleep until its mission is finished.
Sometimes we feel the spirit in a crowd or a group.
And sometimes  feel the Spirit best when we’re quietly alone.
Sometimes the Spirit is a comforter and sometimes an agitator.

There is one Spirit, but there are many expressions
of God’s power and movement.
There many ways for God to reach us and move us.
And since we are called together by the Spirit,
there are many ways that we are called to be the church.
We are an extroverted and an introverted church.
Sometimes we are filled with a gentle breath
and sometimes our heads are on fire.

And like the disciples,
We are called to be a church in the world.
We reach out to old and young.
We reach out to people of all nations and languages.
Like the disciples, we are called to preach out in public,
calling to question the powers in the world,
agitating and upsetting the establishment.
And we are also called to be a personal church
caring for the individual, not just the numbers.
We bring God’s peace to the world one life at a time
And we who have been forgiven,
have been given the power of forgiving others
and we are asked to share that power graciously.

We are the church of Christ.
And despite our brokenness and our flaws,
we are called together and motivated by God’s Spirit.
Like those disciples on the first day,
we speak in tongues: tongues of justice, peace,
equality, understanding, forgiveness, and love.

And we are called to gather together,
to pray, and read the Word of God,
and to do the work we are called to in Jesus name,
until God’s will is done on this earth,
until the Spirit has been poured out
on all people, until everyone knows

God’s power and grace.

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