For Pentecost. by Neil Brice
Sermon For Pentecost 2019
The Day of Pentecost and they were all together in one place… then suddenly!
It all seems so straightforward and so amazingly sudden.
There seems to be none of the doubting and questioning as we had at the resurrection.. they all seemed to be in on it, as they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in ways which they could all understand.
The remainder of the early chapter of Acts if we were to read a bit further, speaks of a wonderful united and caring group of early believers who shared everything in common and even set up systems to ensure the needy amongst them were without need.
In the space of a very short time a lot seems to have been established for the infant church.
In two months we are led to feel those who doubted and questioned, those who denied and ran away, those who were filled with fear for their lives, were new people and all the old ways had vanished.
It is not at all unusual when looking back over the past to paint a different picture then the whole reality.
Last week saw the 75th anniversary of D Day and yet even today some of the less fortunate stories of that amazing military campaign are being told. The picture I certainly grew up with is getting filled in with far more (interesting) detail.
We do know that the church faced some big challenges later in Acts. Paul and Peter had a tough relationship often disagreeing with each other.
It was all very well Jews from around the world gathering in Jerusalem to hear the apostles first proclamations, but when the gentiles came in on the act that was another problem altogether. Was it ever going to be safe to let unclean and unwanted gentiles in on the Act of God at work?
I read this week an opening remark in a book…. Community takes Commitment… the chapter then proceeded to speak about being committed to the Christian fellowship/community means a challenging journey. Don’t expect it to be easy, either personally or corporately.
Richard Rohr also pointed out recently that when the church had grown more weary of being anti Jewish and then Anti Muslim, it became intent on fighting amongst themselves in a denominational warfare.
A phrase in the gospel reading also stood out for me today when Phillip said “show us the father and we shall be satisfied”
I am not at all sure what would have really satisfied those early disciples. They probably were not all that different from us today who who always be able to come back and say “ah but…” and hanker after more satisfaction.
Jesus seems to have been a bit disappointed with Philips comment. Almost suggesting that had he not done enough to show them the way…. surely you must have seen something in what I had done and said?
Of course for John’s readers they were still to encounter the final sign… the crucifixion. That final moment of revelation when Jesus becomes the servant of all and does not claim equality with God in some cosmic way. He was seen in the emptying of himself and becoming almost the lowest of the low.
Surely on this feast of Pentecost we must not fall into the trap of thinking everything is going to be power filled and wonderful without challenges in the Christian way or even in the Christian community.
Community still does take commitment and commitment is not often easy.
We cannot move on in our Christian lives without the sign of the cross before us with all that must teach us about being servants and about bearing scars. Jesus clearly carried those scars with him, the new life of Easter as well as the promise of the Holy Spirit to empower us in living the kingdom, as seen on the day of Pentecost, holds all that we are scars and all.
Jesus does say that the Holy Spirit will remind us, we must not forget.