Sunday Sermons

Pentecost 2018

Do You Believe and Trust in the Holy Spirit who Gives Life to the People of God and makes known Christ in the World? This is a statement from the Profession of Faith which we make in our Baptism and Confirmation services in the Anglican Church and in a more general form profess each week in the Creed. Our task today is therefore to ask what, or who, this Holy Spirit is and what He, She or It does in the world that requires our belief and trust. In the Gospel today the pronoun used is He but for most of the Bible and in Christian tradition the Spirit of God is a female entity Sophia in Greek or Ruach in Hebrew. We do not believe God has a gender soI think thsi morning we should use she because it gives balance to our perception of God and helps us think about our Creator without prejudice towards a male picture of God.
So who is this Holy Spirit, after all we cannot claim to believe and trust in someone or something about which we know nothing in particular. This small matter of what the Spirit of God actually is and does is fundamental to our ability to believe and trust in Her presence in the world making Christ known and giving life to God’s people. We should note from the start that this is not simply a matter for Pentecost. What we perhaps need to address to start with is that the Pentecost is not the birthday of the Holy Spirit but of the Church. The Holy Spirit has been in the world since the very begginning .. we read in Genesis .. in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. the earth was formless & empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep & the Spirit of God hovered over the waters ..
We must start to build our picture of the Spirit of God in this text then at the very beginning of the Word of God which talks about creation .. and which tells us that the Spirit of God was present and indeed active in this act of initiating life out of a formless, empty and dark environment. This fits very well with our creed which talks of the giving of life .. this is the first role we see for the Holy Spirit to give life and today at Pentecost we might remember the event as the birth of the Church where the Holy Spirit gives life or gives birth to a new movement in history the Church of Christ. It is why we profess our faith in the Spirit at Baptism because it is hear we believe She gives new life to each member of the Church! The Spirit gives life!!
Another role of the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit is to bring order from chaos, to re-form the mess of the world into a place in which the purposes of God can be achieved. So the work of the Spirit is to give life and then instruct and nurture what is born with the right intentions and purposes. In the context of Pentecost this means the Holy Spirit is the one who gives birth to the life of the Church and in order to reveal Christ to the world? It is moves the disciples of Jesus from the chaos of the crucifixion and the disbelief of the resurrection to the purpose and trust of Pentecost. The Church is born so that the chaos and disbelief of the world can be overcome by the order and faith of those who are filled with the Holy Spirit .. the people of God .. the Church!
Do you ever feel that life is a bit of a mess? The call of the Christian is to believe and trust that the Holy Spirit is the one who has the intention and plan and desire to redeem this mess. In theological language this idea that there is a plan in all this it is called Teleology! It is the idea that all we experience … our suffering our pain our loss our joys our laughter and our tears is working towards a particular end! It is not a futile world created by accident. It is a world full created by a Creator with a purpose and an ultimate goal because it was created according to a particular Spirit. A Holy Spirit. A Spirit of love and devotion. Through this Spirit the Church was born at Pentecost.
I feel that what we are called to believe in when talk of the Holy Spirit is a persistent belief in this Spirit who gives life to the people of God and then bring order to the Church out of human weakness so we can be co-workers in this act of taking the formless and dark and chaotic experiences that life throws at us and turn them into sources of goodness and creativity and life. We are to transform our experience of the world as dark and chaotic into acts of kindness and generosity and love .. for this is in keeping with the Spirit of God!
If we do this we make Christ known to the world because it is in God that all things will eventually be redeemed completely and that the Spirit of God will in a sense be absolved … the goodness, kindness and perfection of God’s plan in creation will be complete through the cross of Christ. And so our belief in the Holy Spirit should mean that when we are shown acts of anger we do not pass it on but we transform it to acts of love. When we are shown meanness of spirit we transform this to generosity and pass it on. In doing so we continue to re-order the world and we continue the work of God through His Spirit.

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