First, get a balloon, then read. :)
Day of Pentecost
Psalm 104:24-34, 35b
1 Corinthians 12:3b-13
Please pray with me,
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts, be acceptable in your sight, O God, our rock and our Redeemer, Amen.
Happy Pentecost! Or should I say, Happy Birthday! Maybe we should have added the church to the birthday list this week. Pentecost is sometimes described at the birthday of the church. It is the day we hear the story of how the apostles were gathered together and the sound of a loud, rushing, violent wind swept in and filled the entire house. Then tongues of fire rested on each of their heads and they were filled with the Holy Spirit.
I love this image: mighty, powerful, rushing wind. It reminds us of the wind and movement that swept over the waters at creation. We think of new beginnings, we think of fresh starts, we think of God’s presence in and among us.
We celebrate that Pentecost day when following the sound of the rushing wind, all those gathered there…Jews from every nation…we able to speak to one another in different languages, yet they were able to understand one another. They were proclaiming God’s deeds and power to one another in different languages, yet they could understand one another. I would imagine that those gathered were amazed, enlightened and confused. The many different languages, yet the ability to understand one another…amazing, powerful, grace-filled.
I think it’s a day to remember the Spirit’s movement in our lives and in the church. When we talk about the movement of the Holy Spirit, many people I know like to think of it a cool refreshing breeze. Like when you’re sitting at the beach and the wind moves just gently enough to keep you cool in the sun. Or it’s summer evening on the porch, and the breeze does just enough to keep the mosquitos from gathering around you.
It’s easier, perhaps to think of the Spirit as something calm and lilting…we’ll sing at the end of the service, Spirit of Gentleness…but when we get there, listen to the words we sing…yes there is comfort and gentleness with the Spirit, but there is also the strength of a mighty, rushing wind….calling from tomorrow, breaking ancient schemes…from the bondage of sorrow, all the captives dream dreams. Our women see visions, our men clear their eyes, with bold new decisions your people arise.
The day of Pentecost we remember this day is one where the wind and the flames swept through, lifting up voices, pushing and pulling people in new directions, reminding them of their past and sweeping them into the future.
I’m glad today is a birthday celebration, because I brought a balloon.
A "dead balloon” or a deflated one -- has no life. It continues to lie wherever you put it. It doesn't move. It has no power.
But if you take a "dead balloon" and do what Jesus did, what happens?
Yes, it’s full of air; but it is still dead, going nowhere.
The trick is, to release the power.
But, if I release the balloon where will it land? Any guesses?
Maybe someone guessed right, but if I stood here again, and blew up the balloon again, and let it go from the exact spot, it could land somewhere completely different.
Under the "spirit's/breath's/wind's" power, the balloon can move. It goes out. However, when the wind power within the balloon is released, you don't know where the balloon is going to go; but you know it's going somewhere. (We don't know where the wind comes from or is going.)
Jesus did not give the disciples the Spirit's power so that they could stay behind locked doors in fear. It is given as a power to move people out into the world -- even if we don't always know exactly where we will end up.
What happens to the balloon after it has "spent" its power? It seems dead again. All out of power. It's flat. There's no more "spirit/breath" within it. On one hand we are not like that balloon. Jesus promises that the Spirit will be with us forever. We will never run out of the Spirit's power. The Spirit given to you in baptism remains forever.
On the other hand, over and over again in Acts, we read that certain disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit. Their filling didn't just happen once, but over and over again. So we also need to be refilled. Weekly we return to church as a refilling station. To receive Jesus again in the hearing of the word and in the sharing of sacrament and through the fellowship of the saints.
What happens to a filled balloon that doesn't use the power within? Over time, the power leaves. The balloon, without doing anything, will go flat. The same is true with muscles. Muscles that aren't used, become useless through atrophy.
Can the same happen with faith -- or the gift of the Spirit?
How is the gift of the Spirit, given to you in baptism alive in your life today?
How is the Spirit gently guiding, or down right pushing or pulling you into new and different areas of the church, the community and the world?
How is that mighty rushing wind moving you this day? How are you responding?
Are you holding on to that power, and taking control of it…or letting go and letting it guide your heart and mind and body….?
This afternoon, the 8th graders will gather with their families and Affirm their Baptism, they will remember the promises God made with each of them in baptism, and how they promise to continue what God has begun in them. As that celebration happens, we are all reminded of our baptisms, and how we promise to continue what God has begun in us…continually filled by the Holy spirit for God’s mission in the world.
And now may the peace, which passes all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus and let all God’s people say, amen.