St. Matthew’s Sermon 06-04-2017

St. Matthew’s Sermon 06-04-2017

Full of Something

Numbers 11:24-30, Acts 2:1-21, 1 Corinthians 12:3b-13, John 7:37-39

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O God. Amen

It is no surprise that on this Pentecost Sunday, when we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit onto the Disciples, that each of our readings would mention the Spirit of God. What I did find surprising, however, is that we find opposition and dissention somewhere in the full context of each of the readings.

In the reading from Numbers we hear Joshua, believing that Moses’ status is being threatened by two men speaking prophase, insist that they be stopped. And in the reading from Acts we hear scoffers sneering “They are filled with new wine.” These two are right in the readings.

As for the other two, we have to look beyond the reading a little. In First Corinthians, the section of Paul’s Epistle begins with him writing

Now in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. For, to begin with, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you; and to some extent I believe it”.

And in John’s Gospel, a little before today’s reading, we hear that

“…Jesus went up into the temple and began to teach. The Jews were astonished at it, saying, “How does this man have such learning, when he has never been taught?” (7:14-15 NRSV)

And just after today’s reading it is written,

“When they heard these words, some in the crowd said, “This is really the prophet.” Others said, “This is the Messiah.” But some asked, “Surely the Messiah does not come from Galilee, does he? Has not the scripture said that the Messiah is descended from David and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?” So there was a division in the crowd because of him”. (7:40-43 NRSV)

In these stories, there seems to be a common response from those who are not filled with the Spirit when someone else is; that being disruption, dissention, and division.

The movement of the Spirit is, indeed, disrupting! But the dissention and division are the result of the reaction of people uninspired by the Spirit’s movement. Joshua was jealous that his lord, Moses, was no longer the only one to prophesy; some of the crowds surrounding Christ couldn’t believe an uneducated man could say anything valid; the gathered, even though they could understand the words of the Disciples in their own language in the day of Pentecost, couldn’t understand their message; and the Corinthians were squabbling over who had the greater spiritual gift or if, in fact, some had any gift at all.

It’s troubling to read of these things happening in the Bible, but what astonishes me the most is the fact that today, thousands of years after the events, both believers and nonbelievers are having the same reactions, the same lack of understanding, and the same refusal to accept events surrounding the movement of the Spirit.

Just look around in our world today and you can see so many examples of Spirit filled people, lifting their voices in God’s name, trying to make the same changes Jesus tried to make some 2000 years ago. Love your neighbor, love your enemy, love the stranger among you, care for the poor, forgive so that you may be forgiven, condemn not lest you be condemned…

Yet for every voice of proclamation there is still a voice of dissention. How many will respond according to God’s call as opposed to the number that will say: “Why should I love my neighbor”? “Love my enemy, you’ve got to be kidding. “Let strangers into our corner of the earth; they’re going to steal my job”. “Why should I shell out my hard earned money to help someone who won’t work”? “Forgive!? They started it”. And, my least favorite, “I’m not condemning, God is” [pointing at the Bible]. And any one of these may be followed with “You just don’t understand how things work”. Or “you’re full of [something else that starts with an s and ends with i-t but isn’t Spirit].

Spirit filled people seek to make change, change for the better. And looking around our world with all the war and terrorism, poverty and oppression, hate and condemnation; it’s obvious that there is a deep need for change; the status quo is – not – working and it’s not working because it’s not the way of God!

Yes, the Spirit causes disruption; it rattles the status quo when things need to be rattled. But… the Spirit does not cause dissention, and division; they are the reaction of those who will not listen, refuse to believe, and disallow the movement of the Spirit within themselves!

Moses’ response to dissention was to wish that “…all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the LORD would put His Spirit on them”!

Jesus’ response to dissention was to give The Spirit to all who believe!

Peter’s response to dissension was to allow The Spirit to move him from hiding into preaching!

Paul’s response to dissension was to assure that all believers have the Spirit within them and to recognize that the same Spirit works differently in each one for the benefit of all!

Your response to dissension should include all of the above. Pray that all people be filled with The Spirit, Help Jesus give The Spirit, allow the Spirit to move you into action, and recognize that, though the Same Spirit works in each one differently, it does so for the benefit of all people.

I pray that you are full of The Spirit; and that you make the work of The Spirit full.



Numbers 11:24-30
11:24 So Moses went out and told the people the words of the LORD; and he gathered seventy elders of the people, and placed them all around the tent.
11:25 Then the LORD came down in the cloud and spoke to him, and took some of the spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders; and when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied. But they did not do so again.
11:26 Two men remained in the camp, one named Eldad, and the other named Medad, and the spirit rested on them; they were among those registered, but they had not gone out to the tent, and so they prophesied in the camp.
11:27 And a young man ran and told Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.”
11:28 And Joshua son of Nun, the assistant of Moses, one of his chosen men, said, “My lord Moses, stop them!”
11:29 But Moses said to him, “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit on them!”
11:30 And Moses and the elders of Israel returned to the camp.


Acts 2:1-21
2:1 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.
2:2 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.
2:3 Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them.
2:4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
2:5 Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem.
2:6 And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each.
2:7 Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans?
2:8 And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language?
2:9 Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,
2:10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes,
2:11 Cretans and Arabs–in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.”
2:12 All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?”
2:13 But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”
2:14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say.
2:15 Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning.
2:16 No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:
2:17 ‘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.
2:18 Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.
2:19 And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist.
2:20 The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day.
2:21 Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

1 Corinthians 12:3b-13
12:3b No one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit.
12:4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit;
12:5 and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord;
12:6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone.
12:7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
12:8 To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit,
12:9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit,
12:10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.
12:11 All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.
12:12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.
12:13 For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body–Jews or Greeks, slaves or free–and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.


John 7:37-39
7:37 On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me,
7:38 and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.'”
7:39 Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified.