The Pouring Out of God’s Spirit
The Pouring Out of God’s Spirit
Today is Pentecost Sunday, when we recognize and acknowledge the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is referred to by Jesus as the Advocate, that which will come and remain with us after Jesus himself is gone. In the dramatic reading from Acts, we witness the arrival of the Holy Spirit as a gust of wind and a flash of fire.
How does the Holy Spirit impact our daily walk of faith?
Thank you to Carolyn Hyma, our vocalists Brian MacInness, Rob Lenters, Janet Leadbeater, Diana Carr and Trevor Gillman on saxaphone. Your music ministry continues to inspire us and points to a time when we can all gather, worship, and sing praises to God.
Ministry to Children has some excellent resources for children related to Pentecost. Be sure to visit their website or watch the video below.
The Pouring Out of God’s Spirit
In scripture we will find a lot about God, a lot about Jesus, and a little bit about the Holy Spirit. Today is Pentecost, which is when we celebrate when the Holy Spirit was received by the church. This is the passage that we have from Acts. Where Peter, while in Jerusalem, became aware that the Holy Spirit was alive and active among the people. Everyone began speaking in other languages as the Spirit enabled them and each was able to be understood.
It represents a great coming together that is enabled in the community of the Holy Spirit. If God is our Creator, Christ our Redeemer and Way, then the Holy Spirit is what binds us together and sustains us. However, outside of a few references the Holy Spirit does not get a lot of mention. Which is odd if you think about it.
In each of the gospel accounts we meet John the Baptist. John was known for doing one thing and doing it in a very dramatic way that was contrary to the practice of the time. He baptised people in the Jordan River. This is what he was known for and it is how we remember him. When asked about his ministry John says, and I’m paraphrasing, ‘if you think this is amazing, wait until you see what the guy after me does. I use water, he’s going to use the Holy Spirit!’ John really sets the stage for Jesus, builds him up as the next big thing, which of course he was. Just not in the way that John or even we might have predicted.
Scott Hoezee puts it like this, “…then a funny thing happened: in his ministry Jesus hardly ever talked about the Holy Spirit. Nor did he baptize anyone. It wasn’t what John had anticipated at all, and so in a startling passage (cf. Matthew 11 and Luke 7), John at one point sends Jesus a message to ask, “Are you the One who was to come, or should we be on the lookout for somebody else? You know, somebody better?” John was looking for more Spirit, more fire.” (Scott Hoezee)
Scripture is full of all sorts of contradictions, but this one is interesting. John in the gospels indicates that one will come after me who will baptise with the Holy Spirit, but then those same gospel writers never relay a single occurrence of Jesus baptising anyone. Outside of a few references, our gospel reading from John being the most prominent exception, Jesus rarely even mentions the third person of the Trinity.
Yet, here we stand on Pentecost Sunday. Some 2000 years after Peter and those gathered in Jerusalem received the Holy Spirit. Our own community of faith is approaching 200 years of service and discipleship. Our history, the history of the Church is infused by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Scott Hoezee writes, “It is clear that the Holy Spirit has been the Church’s living connection to God ever since the great day of Pentecost.” (Scott Hoezee)
Pentecost is a reminder of where the church started, just as it always points towards where we are going. This destination isn’t a place, it is perhaps more concretely stated as an ideal. Something we strive to achieve in union with Christ.
To be faithful to the calling of the gospel, to carry those commandments Jesus indicated were most important forward into all aspects of our lives. Love God, love your neighbour as yourself. Pentecost reminds us that we aren’t alone. Often you’ll here reference to the poem Footsteps of when we look back and see only one set in the sand. That we are told is when Christ carries us. And Christ does walk with us and that is evidenced through the work of the Holy Spirit.
I remember years ago my friend Bryan’s father passed away suddenly. Rick was a hard working Irishman, loved his family, loved God. At the committal service a strong wind blew around us as the casket was being lowered. That was the Holy Spirit reminding us of whose we are, of who we belong to.
When your skin prickles with sensation, when music causes emotion to swell up within you, when the spoken word inspires you, when art and image transform the world around us. That’s the Holy Spirit reminding us of another facet of God’s creation. When we walk quietly through the woods, feeling the stillness of the world the Holy Spirit is present. When the storms of nature and of life crash around us, the Holy Spirit is with us still. When we gather around table, breaking bread, enjoying the company of one another, the Holy Spirit is present in our laughter.
Pentecost is a call to the church to live in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Rolf Jacobson writes, “What sort of things happen when the Spirit-life that exists between the Father and the Son gets poured out on God’s sons and daughters? To answer that, it is helpful to turn to some other pages of the New Testament.
“At the highest level, the pouring out of the Spirit brings forgiveness, new life, and “frees us from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2). (Rolf Jacobson)
What does it mean to be free of sin and death? It means to be alive in Christ, alive in God’s creation. We don’t follow Christ because we strive to reach a cloudy angelic realm, but so that we can bring about a community of love, compassion, grace, mercy and care in this one. The creation that God called very good.
In our passage last week Jesus prayed for the disciples to be protected. Though our passage today is found earlier in John, Jesus makes clear that it is the Spirit who will do that protecting.
We are called and enabled to go out into the world in the fullness of the power of the Holy Spirit which is the third aspect of the Triune God. We are called to do that faithfully, trusting in the promises of God as witnessed throughout scripture and fulfilled on this day.
As Peter told the crowd that day in the words of the prophet Joel:
In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.
May we too prophesy, may our young and old have visions and dreams of the fullness of God’s kingdom and the faith that working together we can get closer to that goal. May we, in this place, at this time be open to the pouring out of God’s Spirit. Amen.
St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church
St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Cobourg is part of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. The congregation was established in 1833 and continues to serve the community.
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