S-1319 Pentecost S/3B 5/27/12 Hymns: (O) #234; (S) #224; LS. #227, 226, 231; (C) # 49
Text: Ezekiel 37:1-14; Acts 2:1-21; John 15:26-27, 16:4-15
Theme: “Pentecost Fervor” (Acts 2:1-4)
Question: “Are You Passionate about Something?” Armour, SD.
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for Pentecost Sunday is from the book of Acts: “When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:1-4).
You who are loved by the Father of all grace and His Son, Jesus Christ and the comforting Holy Spirit, there are many people in this world who are fervently passionate about what they do. In the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky there are Christians who practice handling poisonous snakes because in the book of Mark 16:17-18 it mentions that they can do so. They believe this is a must and fervently carry it out even to the point of losing their lives. In Venezuela they practice the religion of Santeria. This Afro-Caribbean religion causes the people to go into a trance and do all sorts of harm to their bodies to drive out evil spirits. Though they claim to be Christians, this is practiced fervently to get rid of sin and the evil spirits. And in China’s Province some people mutilate their bodies with all sorts of painful instruments to show supreme devotion and to appease their gods. All these people are fervently attempting to do something to prove their worth in the sight of their gods. Devotion is measured by physical suffering and self inflicted pain—walking on 3000 degrees of hot coal, climbing a ladder 200 steps of sharp blades and piercing themselves with swords, knives and even nails; just to prove their worth in the sight of their god’s.
However, today, we are not here to pick up poisonous snakes, walk on hot coals, mutilate our bodies or drive out demons to prove our worth to our God. Our worth is found in the cross of Christ and the empty tomb. We are here though, to observe the Pentecost Fervor that fell upon the disciples as they proclaimed to the world the might deeds of God.
Today, we witness the mighty working of God the Holy Spirit in the lives of the disciples as promised by the Savior. Jesus had told them, “That He would send the Counselor, the Helper, the Paraclete who will teach them all things He has done and will guide them in sharing His salvation with all people.” We observe how the Holy Spirit descended upon them with tongues of fire and gave them the fervent desire to speak in multi-languages so that others might come to worship the only True Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Peter, the great spokesperson of the Disciples stood up and with fervent zeal explained to the assembly what they had witnessed. That the disciples are not drunk but filled with the Spirit of Truth and through that Spirit were able to communicate in the languages of the people the joy of the resurrection and ascension of the Savior, Jesus.
Likewise, we too, with Pentecost Fervor do what the Savior has asked us to do—go in His name and by His power to our neighbors, friends and yes, even family and share with them the hope of the resurrection that He won for us, by restoring us from the grave, just like the O.T. lesson told us of the dead bones that came alive.
Though we know this truth, yet we don’t always carry it out. It is sometimes burdensome to have the Pentecost fervor. We become afraid to share thinking very little of ourselves; and what others might they think of us. We feel we are carrying a burden too heavy for us and can’t do it on our own.
But dear, dear beloved ones, as a Child of God, He knows what we can bear and what we cannot bear, and when we can bear it. In John 16:12-13 Jesus says: “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth, for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to come”. We are reminded of the promise that being His friends we know all that He has just said earlier in 15:15, in this same revelatory moment, “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.”
Certainly, they were not able to bear the things of God before the Cross. Ah, but afterward, and after they waited in Jerusalem for the Promised Holy Spirit, they received the power to transform the world one soul at a time. God incarnate, God in their flesh. Yes, God in your flesh.
Today’s sermon and the grand sermon of Peter in Acts 2, speaks to the dwelling of the Holy Spirit of God in, with, and under His Children. The simple message that you live, in your forgiveness, is that Your God is greater than your sin. Your God is stronger in His love than all the emptiness and pain of the sinner’s isolation. Indeed, He takes dry bones - useless bones - and in this Word of encouragement, this Word that now they can bear - He speaks life into His exceedingly great army.
Yes, as the Holy Spirit spoke to Ezekiel, so He speaks today to and through you: “Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O My people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. And you shall know that I Am the LORD, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O My people” (Ezek. 37:12-13).
The veil is removed and we are given life, made to be His people—His very own blood-bought people. We who stand accused even as the Jewish rulers. We are no longer accused but welcomed into the family. We have a Father who is “Our Father.” We have His Holy Son as our Payment for all sin. We have His Spirit as our Advocate. The Advocate, the One who pleads the case for us as a lawyer would in a court of Law, but oh so much more, for we are no client, we are “O My People!”
Today, and every day as we gather in the Lord’s house we come to see the Pentecost Fervor working out in our lives. Here in this place we pray that He would give us tongues of fire so that with fervent faith may proclaim the mighty deeds of God. As we gather around His Word, to be fed at His table, receive His absolution we know the certainty of being His own dearly loved children and called “O My People!” And as the people of God we work with fervent urgency to get the message out to all people so that they too may be His people for now and forever.
Pentecost is all about those who are “O My People.” What we didn’t and couldn’t understand now has hold of us, hold of us with comfort, like a loving embrace. In this place we, too, become filled and fed and forgiven. Now we who are “O My People” have seen and heard the Risen Savior. We have seen Him ascend on high, above us, to comfort and keep us. You see, we are no longer, unable to bear the news any long. It is not just a headline like those scrolling lines at the bottom of the TV newscast, something to be read or ignored. This is more than mere information, it is that LIFE has come and now He has filled your heart with PEACE. He has empowered you with LOVE and covered you with JOY. Yes, His PATIENCE, GOODNESS, KINDNESS, GENTLENESS, and SELF-CONTROL all work in you “O My People” For you bear it now - the fruit of the Spirit. In that you rejoice not only for today as we observe and celebrate Pentecost; but through an endless eternity.
After all, our whole life is a life of Pentecost fervor. Amen
Now the peace…
SOLI DEO GLORIA