This is a very important day in the Church Year. We celebrate the arrival of the Holy Spirit creating the church on Pentecost. We were encouraged to wear red to celebrate the specialness of the day. It is a very special day for our congregation. We have three adults who are uniting with us in our journey of faith as a family of God.
I would like to reflect on some ways the Holy Spirit acts on us as a church and as individuals.
Jesus after his resurrection spent 40 days with his disciples preparing them for his final departure to ascend into heaven. He promised them they would receive power on high. But they would need to gather in a room in Jerusalem and pray for that power to come.
So, they gathered, but first selected a new disciple to replace Judas. Then they prayed. Suddenly there was the sound of a mighty wind, and tongues of fire appeared over the heads of the disciples. Then they began to speak in other languages. Jewish pilgrims from all the Roman Empire had gathered in the town to celebrate the agricultural festival of Pentecost. When they heard all the noise they came and asked what was happening. Some of them were cynical. These folks are drunk. But Peter responded. “It’s too early in the morning to get drunk. These folks are being filled with the Holy Spirit and are speaking God’s mighty words.” Many of the pilgrims asked Peter what should they do? Peter responded; “Repent of all your sins and be baptized.” 3,000 heeded his words and through baptism the church was born.
But this isn’t the first time we hear about the Holy Spirit. Right after Jesus was baptized by his cousin John, the Holy Spirit drove him into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil and hammer out what it means to be God’s Messiah.
When Jesus was in the Upper Room with his disciples preparing them for his death and resurrection, he told them he had to leave so that the Holy Spirit could come. After he rose from the dead, he gave them the Holy Spirit and the power to forgive sins in Jesus’ name.
Paul gives it a personal dimension. He encouraged Christians in Rome to trust they were beloved children of God. “Abba” is the name of your dad, that only one of his children could utter.
I experienced this in church when I was a preteen. I had been dropped off at worship by my stepdad and was feeling a bad case of the “sorry’s” for myself. Through the power of the Spirit, I heard God say to me; “You are my son, and I will never forsake you.” That proclamation has made all the difference in my life.
But that power does not stop there. Whether we know it or not the Holy Spirit has gathered us all together for worship — visitors and members. We are a diverse folk. Some are from North Carolina. Other are from all the US: New Jersey, New York, Maine, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and even California. What states did I leave out?
Some of us are progressives, some are conservative. We have all come from other places that did things differently from the ways they are done here.
Not only that, we live a country that is deeply divided now. Our members of Congress do not trust each other. There is very little they can agree to do together. When we think of firearms there are even worse divisions. Yet here we are and have the audacity that The Holy Spirit brought us together in this place. Two of the folks who are joining today are interested in Social Ministry and will be studying the unmet spiritual and material needs of our community to see what God might be calling St. Michael to do at this time and in this place. I believe if we allow it the Holy Spirit will show us what is our ministry today as individuals and as a church. My contribution is we are here to make and grow disciples of Jesus.
Let me share an exercise I experienced as a pastor at a pastor’s meeting years ago. We had a trainer come in to lead us through an experience. He divided us into groups of 4-5. We were to pretend we are on the moon and were a distance from our spaceship. Our task was to get back safely. We had a list of supplies that we needed to use and discard on our way back. Astronauts had figured out what was the best sequence. Each group was to decide its choices.
There was a brilliant guy in one group. He said; “Let me study this problem a few moments and tell you what our choices need to be.” The group followed his instructions. They came in last.
The group that did the best listened to everyone and then decided as a group what were the best choices. They won the contest.
What does that tell me about Christ’s Church. Everyone needs to be heard. But everyone needs to be humble enough to know all they have is their best guess. But when everyone’s ideas are weighed by the group, the guidance of the Holy Spirit will show them the best way.
I believe we are called to make and grow disciples. I believe we could grow large enough in five years to be able to call a pastor, at least at ¾ time. The community is growing and non-churched people who had a lot of time to think during the pandemic are wondering if attending and joining a faith community might help them deal with why they are here, and what might God have to say that will help them get more meaning in life.
Let’s trust the Spirit leads and start the journey together. Who knows who might join us on this journey. Amen.