The Day of Pentecost/Year C
June 9, 2019
Acts 2:1-21; Psalm 104:25-35, 37; Romans 8:14-17; John 14: 8-17 (25-27)
Opening Prayer: The Hymnal 1982 - #513 Like the murmur of the dove's song
Like the murmur of the dove's song, like the challenge of her flight, like the vigor of the wind's rush, like the new flame's eager might: come, Holy Spirit, come. Amen.
I’d like to begin with a story this morning…one that woke me up this past week, to the presence of the Holy Spirit, made known to us, in our daily lives…sometimes like the murmur of the dove’s song, and sometimes like the vigor of the wind’s rush…
Friday morning, just as my husband, Loyd and I were preparing to head out for our morning walk…the power went out…I had been working on my laptop computer, and the screen started to turn lighter, as it does, if I don’t have it plugged in…so I checked the power chord to make sure I hadn’t pulled it out by accident, and then I looked up, and noticed the overhead fan slowing down...that’s when I first realized, that the power had gone out…
We headed out for our walk to town, to unlock the church…and as we walked…we couldn’t help but notice, the profound quietness…It was enlightening to contemplate, that even though we don’t always hear the buzz of the everyday electric energy pulsing through our lives every day… the absence of the “electrical energy” in the air…was so profoundly evident…that one could not help but sense that something was not there…and at the same time… the feeling that something was there…Even the birds and the other early morning sounds of nature that we usually hear, were also quiet…
All the way to the church…the absence of the electric current in the air…just kept me wondering in silent awe…
As we returned home…and walked in the back door…I flipped on the light switch…because of habit…momentarily forgetting that the power had been out…but what a surprise…when the light came on...the electricity was back…
Whew! A sigh of relief now…and we immediately went to work re-setting blinking clocks, and looking throughout the house, to see where other electric powered things may need to be turned on or off now…having forgotten what may have been on, when the power went out….
After finishing up our morning routine, Loyd leaving for work first…I’m now in the quiet again, save the electric energy flowing again…I was still wondering what I had experienced earlier in the morning… “What does this mean?”
I’m thinking about the reading from Acts today…the vibrant vision of the variety of people from all over, who had traveled to gather together to celebrate with others on the Day of Pentecost…The account of the coming of a sound like the rush of violent wind, filling the entire house….and what looked like tongues of fire, that appeared among the people, resting upon each of them… filling them with the Holy Spirit…The Holy Spirit giving them the ability to speak in other languages…and to the amazement and astonishment of the devout Jews, and religious people from other countries who were there…all were able to understand what was being said…all able to hear in their native languages about “God’s deeds of power”….
In my mind, I envision a chaotic looking, and sounding scenario from the start…with the sound like the rush of a violent wind, the tongues, as of fire, with everyone, filled with the Holy Spirit, talking at the same time in different languages…but all describing the same thing…stories about the great things God has done…And then I imagine…after taking a step back for a moment…taking in a different view…or finding that quiet center for a moment, perhaps that murmur of the Dove’s song speaking, the Holy Spirit’s song, prompting the question of those gathered, “What does this mean?”
Then, Peter, speaks up to shed some light on the question…and all I can think of for a moment…is Linus, from A Charlie Brown Christmas, who, in the midst of the chaotic and joyful scene when everyone was dancing and playing music instead of practicing the Christmas nativity pageant, Linus stood up and shed some light on Charlie Brown’s question, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?” Linus answers… “Sure, Charlie Brown…I can tell you what Christmas is all about”…and he proceeds to share the story of Jesus’ birth, according to Luke…
So, when those who were amazed and perplexed as to what was happening and saying to one another, “What does this mean?”
Peter speaks up, “I can tell you what all this means”….and He shares the words of the prophet Joel that speaks about the coming of the Holy Spirit upon God’s people:
‘This is what I will do in the last days, God says:
I will pour out my Spirit on everyone.
Your sons and daughters will proclaim my message;
your young men will see visions,
and your old men will have dreams.
Yes, even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will proclaim my message.
I will perform miracles in the sky above
and wonders on the earth below.
There will be blood, fire, and thick smoke;
the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will turn red as blood,
before the great and glorious Day of the Lord comes.
And then, whoever calls out to the Lord for help will be saved.’
Acts 2: 17-21 CEB
IN our gospel reading today, we hear more about the coming of the Holy Spirit and what it all means for us…
Philip and the others are still struggling with whether or not they’ve seen God. Jesus assures them, that if they’ve been paying attention to the things he’s been saying, and the works he’s been doing…that they have indeed seen the Father, they have indeed, been witness to all the great things God can do….
Jesus has been an advocate…he has been the voice of God, and has shown them the glory of God while he has been with them…but now, He is preparing them, for his leaving…and assures them, that another Advocate will be given to them, to be with them forever…
Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. 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. I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.”
So, what does this all mean?
Perhaps it means…that on those days, when it looks like the world is chaotic and confusing and no-one is listening to one another, or seeking to understand one another…when everyone seems to be speaking a different language that keeps them from communicating with one another or striving to love one another….perhaps it’s in that moment, that we will be nudged and reminded of the gift of the Holy Spirit that has been sent to be with us…sometimes…like the sound of the rush of a violent wind and tongues, as of fire….to remind us that the Love of God is with us, always…and is working in all of us, to reconcile us to one another…and to heal and unite us in love for one another…
Perhaps it means….that on those days, when it feels as though God is absent from our lives…by God’s grace, and mercy…we are nudged and reminded of the gift of the Holy Spirit that is sometimes sent to us like the murmur of a dove’s song….the gentle Spirit that reminds us that we are held safe in the palm of God’s hands…and reminds us…that we are all loved…and never alone…
Perhaps, there will be other days like this past Friday, when the power went out… and I couldn’t help but notice, the profound quietness… and how, in the absence of the “electrical energy” in the air…it was so profoundly evident…that even as I sensed that something was not there… I was comforted in the experience of knowing and believing that something was still there…something powerful and life-giving…and assuring… a peace that Jesus spoke about: “Peace, I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”
I will continue to wonder at times what it all means…
The Life, the death, the resurrection, the ascension of Jesus, the sending of another advocate, the Holy Spirit…
I will continue to wonder and pray for the Holy Spirit to come upon all of us…to help us understand, to teach us, and remind us of all Jesus’ words and works…that have always pointed us towards the love and peace of God…that have always assured us…that God is always with us…and will always be….
Closing Prayer: The Hymnal 1982 - #513 Like the murmur of the dove's song
1 Like the murmur of the dove's song,
like the challenge of her flight,
like the vigor of the wind's rush,
like the new flame's eager might:
come, Holy Spirit, come.
2 To the members of Christ's Body,
to the branches of the Vine,
to the Church in faith assembled,
to her midst as gift and sign:
come, Holy Spirit, come.
3 With the healing of division,
with the ceaseless voice of prayer,
with the power to love and witness,
with the peace beyond compare:
come, Holy Spirit, come.
Rev Julie Platson
St Peter’s by the Sea Episcopal Church