Working Spirit: June 4th Sermon in VR


This is the sermon from June 4th recorded by a Kodak PixPro SP360 4K….below is the text, just in case you were really here for the sermon:

Sunday, June 4, 2017 – The Day of Pentecost
Acts 2:1-21
Psalm 104:25-35, 37
1 Corinthians 12:3b-13
John 20:19-23

Working Spirit

The disciples didn’t sign up for this – not in the least. And they weren’t expecting it – these
followers of Jesus who gather in Jerusalem to celebrate the festival of booths, because they are
Jewish. They are there together in that place because that’s what they always do.

As faithful Jews they went, it’s what was done, though they were probably still bewildered from
all that had happened. These followers of Jesus – 120 of them; those who were in the inner
circle and those who were in the next few out from there. Who had heard him preach, or had
been fed in one of the miraculous feedings, or maybe had been healed, or had known someone
who had, had somehow heard about this Rabbi, and had come to believe that he was indeed
the Messiah, the Son of God.

These followers of Jesus were probably hanging out together, telling Jesus stories, like the
earliest communities of this faith were known to do. They were connecting all that had
happened and what he had said with their Judaic history, as we do now, telling the stories of
our faith when we gather and connecting them into the fabric of the whole. They were sharing
what they had, as Jesus had taught them to do. Meals and property would have been
communal – whatever there was would be shared, so that there would be enough for
everyone. And they were remembering Jesus’ last meal with them, sharing bread and wine
together as he had instructed; as we do each week. So far so good, even church-like.
And then the Holy Spirit happens. Not a gentle breeze, or a beautiful, peaceful dove… but a
rushing violent wind that can be heard for miles. Luke is very clear about that, this is no gentle
in-breaking of the Spirit, this is a violent and sudden, happens TO them, call FEMA moment.
Maybe it’s because our Sunday School is holding the carwash today – but I keep picturing the
Spirit spraying like a fire hose turned on the followers – blasting them with force and volume
that cannot be suppressed. Fiery tongues descend on them, which must have added to their
terror, and they find themselves speaking in languages they couldn’t a moment before.
I’m pretty sure they did not sign up for this when they began following Jesus. I’m guessing they
never imagined the Advocate coming like this, or being empowered with gifts for ministry in
this manner. I’m sure they were hoping for something more gentle, than this “ready or not,
here it comes” Spirit that descends as a violent force and blasts the church into being on this
day of Pentecost.

But the Spirit is upon them this day, whether or not these followers were ready, or had decided
this would fit into their lives, whether it was really how they understood their lives of faith, or
they had fully signed on to this relationship. Insert all the excuses for our spiritual reluctance
here: We will get back to you, Holy Spirit, when we have time, when we are at a better place in
our lives, when our church does a better job of meeting our spiritual needs, or walks more
closely with us in our spiritual journey… you name it, we have an excuse ready.

Some suggest that’s because we don’t really believe in the Spirit’s ability to do much for us. I
think it’s more likely, that we don’t want the responsibility of responding to all that the Spirit is
already doing in our lives; we don’t want the responsibility of responding to all that the Spirit is
always doing in our lives. So we dismiss the Spirit completely, lest we have to uphold our end of
the relationship.

Which is our loss. For the Spirit is fine; she is a force to be reckoned with, she will survive our
fear and our reluctance to commit to relationship; she will persist, undaunted by our lukewarm

But we lose. When we dismiss the Spirit’s invitation to real relationship, we sell ourselves short;
we squander all that she offers us at every moment of our lives. And rather than believe in the
authenticity of the Spirit’s invitation, we allow ourselves to be undermined by a very different,
darker belief, one with the power to slowly destroy us:

As Karoline Lewis describes, it is:
A belief born out of fear. A belief rooted in the soils of despair and doubt. A belief
quickened by hopelessness — the belief that the presence of the Spirit in our lives could
actually be in question. The credence that the Spirit has better things to do than to show
up in our lives. The conviction that there could actually be times in our lives when the
Spirit is absent…

And yet our fears are unfounded, for nothing could be further from the truth. The Holy Spirit is
at work, in the world, in our lives, often in ways we don’t understand and can’t predict, but the
Spirit is absolutely unconditionally and undeniably present and acting in our midst. Perhaps not
always in the forceful, firehose kind of way we hear in this morning’s lesson, but we can trust
for certain that the Holy Spirit will act, we can be assured of it. If we are willing to trust in the
Holy Spirit, we can trust in the Holy Spirit to bring peace to those suffering in the wake of the
violence in Manchester, and London; and those in Portland Oregon; and those in Mosel, Iraq;
and Egypt; We can trust that the Spirit is present with all who suffer from brutality in these
places of recent violence against innocents, which weigh heavily upon our hearts. Just as we
can trust the Holy Spirit to stir us to prophesy when we witness injustices. And we can trust the
Holy Spirit to inspire each and every one of us to live into and embody our Spirit-given gifts.
(adapted from Karoline Lewis, Working Preacher)

We can trust that the Holy Spirit will indeed act, and in ways that will affirm, surprise us.
Perhaps even upend our understanding of ourselves and our place in the world.