St. Matthew’s Sermon 06-09-2019


St. Matthew’s Sermon 06-09-2019

New Things Happening Now

Acts 2:1-21, Psalm 104:24-34, 35b, Romans 8:14-17, John 14:8-17

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

Today is Pentecost Sunday, the day we in the Christian Faith celebrate the birth of the Church. Yet, the name “Pentecost” (Greek for “fifty days”) is borrowed from the Jewish Faith. Pentecost is the point, fifty days after the Passover (celebrating the time when Israel was freed from bondage in Egypt). It is when the Festival of Weeks, also called Shavuoth, takes place; a time of remembering the giving of the Law and the time to celebrate the new harvest with the giving of the “first fruits”.

How very appropriate for God to connect that celebration of salvation-giving Law and life giving harvest of grain with the salvation-giving work of Christ and the life-giving first fruits of about three thousand converts to the way of Christ.

It is an exciting scene, as we read from the Book of Acts; a violent wind blows into the house where the Apostles are gathered bringing with it tongues of fire that rest on each one! Then, magically, each one is able to speak in languages he did not know before. I doubt that any of us can even imagine how the pulses quickened in the wide-eyed, slack-jawed disciples as the event plays out; the fulfilling of Christ’s promise to send the Spirit of God upon them!

It is indeed exciting But there is so much more going on here than just the Spirit’s arrival in wind and fire!

First, the sound of that wind is loud enough to alert everyone in the city to something remarkable going on and they all rush to see what it is!

Then, a stereotype is smashed. These “Galileans”, people known for their thick accent and not known as being eloquent in speech (perhaps the ancient Judean equivalent of what we perceive American hillbillies to be) are not only able to speak in the native language of everyone gathered, but to speak sensibly; clearly enough to convey through words what they felt deep in their hearts.

And, with this, it is made clear that the gift of the Spirit wasn’t for the benefit of the Disciples, those who were already gathered into Christ’s inner circle, but for the benefit of the outsiders who can now hear the Good News, see the light of Christ, and be drawn into the numbers of those who know the love of God!

 

Now I have some really exciting news for you! You have received the Holy Spirit and that Spirit has given you the same gift as she gave the Disciples so many years ago; the gift of being able to speak a foreign language fluently, eloquently, and clearly!

(Do you believe it?)

It’s not Hebrew, not Greek, nor Latin; it’s not the language of the Parthians, Medes, Elamites,  Mesopotamias, Cappadocians, Pontians, Asians, Phrygians or Pamphylians, Egyptians, Libyans, Cretans nor Arabs… It once was, however, a universal language that every person of every nation once knew and understood!

Unfortunately it seems to be a dying language today. Fewer and fewer people speak it, fewer still understand it; nations have abandoned it for the sake of exclusive identity, and, with its falling, people are more and more separated from understanding each other.

(Have you guessed yet?)

It’s not a language of the tongue but the language of the heart… it’s the language of love.

We as believers, baptized in the faith of Christ, know this language well! We’ve been hearing it and speaking it all our lives:

          For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son…

         You shall love the lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.

         You shall love your neighbor as yourself

         Love your enemy

         “For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.”

         “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

         “Just as the Father has loved me, I have also loved you; abide in my love.

         …the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came forth from the Father.

We know the language, but there are so many who do not. Christ came into the world to teach the language of love. With the Holy Spirit dwelling within us we are Disciples and have the ability to speak as Jesus spoke, to love as Jesus loved, and to teach as Jesus taught using the universal language of love; the language that empowers us to connect to others in ways that fulfill God’s promise of salvation for all people!

Let’s revive the use of that language until, once again, it is spoken by every person, in every nation throughout the world! It’s up to us, no one else will.

Amen.

 

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.’

 

Psalm 104:24-34, 35b
104:24 O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.
104:25 Yonder is the sea, great and wide, creeping things innumerable are there, living things both small and great.
104:26 There go the ships, and Leviathan that you formed to sport in it.
104:27 These all look to you to give them their food in due season;
104:28 when you give to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.
104:29 When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.
104:30 When you send forth your spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the ground.
104:31 May the glory of the LORD endure forever; may the LORD rejoice in his works–
104:32 who looks on the earth and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke.
104:33 I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being.
104:34 May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the LORD.
104:35b Bless the LORD, O my soul. Praise the LORD!

Romans 8:14-17
8:14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.
8:15 For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!”
8:16 it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
8:17 and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ–if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

 

John 14:8-17

14:8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.”
14:9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
14:10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works.
14:11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves.
14:12 Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.
14:13 I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
14:14 If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.
14:15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
14:16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever.
14:17 This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.