The un-silent unstoppable Spirit

Pentecost Sunday, 2009

None can stop the Spirit, who is poured out on all flesh.

  • Romans 8: 22-27  Creation groans….Spirit intercedes/sighs
  • John 15: 26-27; 16: 4b-15  The Advocate from God…the Spirit of Truth
  • Acts 2: 1-21 The coming Holy Spirit of Pentecost (include Acts 1: 1-11)

Pentecost is here/coming – Receive the Holy Spirit

All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages,
as the Spirit gave them ability.
Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem.
And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered,
because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each.
Amazed and astonished, they asked,
‘Are not all these who are speaking Galileans?
How is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language?

This is the Spirit-inspired truth of God’s eternal Word.

The Spirit of Christ on Pentecost today

A Mennonite Weekly Review article this week gave witness to the power of the Pentecost Spirit. The article began: “They greeted neighbors, each in his or her native language.” It went on to explain that “84 visitors from 35 nations gathered for the May 4 opening of the Summer Peacebuilding Institute at Eastern Mennonite University” (Chris Edwards, “35 nations represented at EMU peace Institute,” 5/25/09, p. 3)

Today we are being filled with the Holy Spirit as surely as we know the truth of the risen and ascended Jesus Christ and as surely as we have heard the cacophony of voices proclaiming the Pentecost story in many languages.

The Gospel evangelist Luke goes on tell the story that grows out of that Spirit-filling story. The Acts of the Apostles is Luke’s sequel to the Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Luke. Immediately behind this first Pentecost encounter with the Holy Spirit is Luke’s introduction that bridges the Gospel and the book of Acts. Listen to God’s Word as Luke summarizes the story behind the Pentecost story.

Acts 1: 1-11

In the first book, O Theophilus,
I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught
from the beginning until the day when he was taken up to heaven,
after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. After suffering, Jesus presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over the course of forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.
While staying with them, Jesus ordered them not to leave Jerusalem,
but to wait there for the promise of God.
‘This’, he said, ‘is what you have heard from me;
for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit
not many days from now.’
So when they had come together, the disciples asked Jesus,
‘Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?’
Jesus replied,
‘It is not for you to know the times or periods
that the God has set by God’s own authority.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you;
and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem,
in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’
When Jesus had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up,
and a cloud took him out of their sight.
While he was going and they were gazing up towards heaven,
suddenly two persons in white robes stood by them.
They said, ‘People of Galilee, why do you stand looking up towards heaven?
This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven,
will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.’

The Pentecost Story unfolds

The disciples returned to Jerusalem from the Mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. When they had entered the city the went to the room upstairs where they were staying….[The disciples] were constantly devoting themselves to prayer…Acts 1: 12-14

As we heard last Sunday, Peter stood up and began speaking about how the Holy Spirit was at work in and among them as they chose Matthias to replace Judas as one of the 12.

Then the Pentecost story unfolds. Jesus told them to stay in Jerusalem until the Spirit he had promised came upon them. That Spirit story continues in us today!

Luke’s two-part story in the Gospel and Acts is filled with the Spirit. The Holy Spirit’s presence and power is mentioned consistently from beginning to end. Remember what Jesus knew very well. In Jesus’ inaugural sermon that began his ministry in his home synagogue in Nazareth, he open the scripture to the prophet Isaiah and proclaimed that “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me” — to be and do all that God has intended on earth as in heaven.

Jesus knew that he couldn’t do it on his own. God’s Spirit could do it in and through him. Jesus tells his disciples over and over again that the same is true for them.

We face a choice in life. The choice is to do it our way or to do it the Spirit’s Way — that is Jesus’ Way.

Pentecost is a Jubilee away from Easter – 50 days after Easter. Just as Jesus entrusted himself to the Jubilee Spirit of God at work redeeming and transforming the world so does Jesus insist that Jubilee Spirit is our only hope. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me!”  
(Luke 4 & Isaiah 42 & 61).

The stories of Acts that unfold from this Spirit-filled story are stories about the disciples being filled with the Spirit to be living witnesses to Jesus’ Spirit. Peter and the disciples are the first and greatest Truth and Reconciliation Commission!

This is what the world needs now more than ever. This is what we are to be today. It can only be done in and through the Holy Spirit not on our own terms or in our own way. It can only be done the Jesus Way!

Romans 8: 22-27

Paul tells us in Romans 8, that all creation groans with us in this task.
Read Romans 8: 22-27…..

Gospel – John 15: 26-27

John’s Gospel confirms the centrality and essentiality of this power of the Holy Spirit. We cannot do it on our own. We cannot be this way alone. Only with the Holy Spirit can we be and do all that God has created us to be and do together as God’s holy and faithful people.

Read John 15: 22-27…16: 4b-15….

The incarnate, crucified, risen, and ascended Jesus Christ is eternally present even now and always as the Advocate, the promised Holy Spirit. Receive what Jesus promised the Holy Spirit today so that we may participate ever more fully in what God is doing to fulfill God’s reign on earth as in heaven.

Breathe the Holy Spirit as God’s breath in you and in us. Melanie will lead us in a Spirit breathed movement prayer as we receive the Holy Spirit in our bodies.

Acts 2: 1-21

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.
And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind,
and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.
Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages,
as the Spirit gave them ability.
Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem.
And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered,
because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each.
Amazed and astonished, they asked,
‘Are not all these who are speaking Galileans?
How is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language?
Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia,
Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia,
Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome,
both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear
them speaking about God’s deeds of power.’
All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘What does this mean?’
But others sneered and said, ‘They are filled with new wine.’

But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them:
‘People of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem,
let this be known to you, and listen to what I say.
Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose,
for it is only nine o’clock in the morning.
No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:
“In the last days it will be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams.
Even upon my slaves, both men and women,
in those days I will pour out my Spirit;
and they shall prophesy.
And I will show portents in the heaven above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and smoky mist.
The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood,
before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day.
Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

This is Word of God’s Holy Spirit offered to all God’s people!

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