Can You Feel It?
Today we talk about the entity in the Holy Trinity that we spend the least amount of time talking about. We talk a lot about God the Father, and of course God the Son, but we don’t spend a lot of time with the third member of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit.
This Spirit has been part of Scripture from the beginning. Genesis 1: “in the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.”
It overarched the story of the Hebrew people as they became Gods ‘Chosen People’ and became a nation. It blew across the valley in Ezekiel and blew life into the dry bones lying bleached on the ground. And it was present at Jesus baptism, his crucifixion and resurrection.
Now, in fulfillment of Jesus promise to his disciples, the Holy Spirit blows into a locked upper room and didn’t just land on the disciples’ heads as tongues of flame; but it filled them and empowered them to go out and change the world.
And so they did.
They went out and began to speak and share the Good News and, somehow, some way, people from all over the Roman world were able to understand them in their own languages. We don’t know whether they were able to speak in those languages, or if simply those who heard were able to understand within their minds. We don’t know and I’m not sure it really matters.
One thing we do know: In the Ezekiel reading, God’s spirit blows over a valley and into the dried bones of Israel, bring them back to life. God’s Spirit blew into those frightened disciples and empowered and inspired them to go out from that locked room and bring the Good News of Jesus Christ out into the world, and by doing so altered the face of the known world.
What we see here is that whenever God’s spirit is present there is disturbance, there is inspiration and then there is change.
God’s spirit doesn’t leave things the way she finds them. God’s spirit brings life to death, breath to the those who can’t breathe, and changes hearts and minds and circumstance.
In the Gospel lesson of John 15: 26-27, 16: 4b-15, Jesus is preparing the disciples for his death and the fact that he will eventually leave them. He says that in his place he will send them a helper, that he calls the Advocate, to help them understand and grow strong in faith. He has told the disciples “You also are to testify, because you have been with me from the beginning.” He tells them that when the Spirit comes, the Spirit will do her work of disturbance, inspiration and change. It will prove the world wrong about sin, and righteousness and judgment. It will show the world the way of Jesus who forgave sin, and who told the world about another kind of righteousness, not of the Law, but of faith. Whose judgement was limited to those who chose not to care for all others as he had cared for them.
This was the work of the Spirit, moving out into the world. This was the message the disciples were to teach.
And so the Advocate came, that Spirit that blew through and into the disciples and disturbed them, and inspired them and left them radically, irrevocably changed. From hiding in a closed, shuttered room, they went all over the world proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ, teaching, healing, even resurrecting, testifying, as Jesus said they would do.
And as it blew through them all, Peter found the words of Joel to describe what was happening, “I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters will prophesy, and your young men shall see visions and your old men shall dream dreams. Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out me spirit: and they shall prophesy.”
The coming of the Spirit to those twelve men turned their lives upside down, just as following Jesus had turned them upside down. They went out and did things they never would have imagined without his influence and teachings, without the inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit.
Can you feel that spirit here, today? It hasn’t stopped blowing. It’s still disturbing, inspiring, changing things. God hasn’t stopped speaking, loving, caring.
We see the power of the Holy Spirit whenever someone stands up to speak for those who have no voice. Who advocates for those who have no power. Who seeks to change things to make them better for all God’s people wherever they are.
We see that spirit when people come to help after storms, hurricanes, earthquakes, fires. God’s spirit empowering hands and hearts.
We see it in those who stock food banks, who help in homeless shelters, who reach out to those on the streets to give shelter and help.
God’s spirit is still speaking, still calling even in this time, even in this place. It is calling to you, to me, to this congregation.
It is calling to each of us to take an active role in bringing God’s kingdom to this time and this place.
Some of us to prophesy, some of us to teach, some of us to give the gift of presence, some to lead, some to advocate for others, some to feed and shelter those in need.
Each of those gifts and callings of the Holy Spirit is here with us in this space today. And while the whirlwind that was the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost isn’t quite blowing through this place today, each of us have received the gift of God’s Holy Spirit at our baptism. That same spirit that blew through that locked room came to each of us here today when we came to a font like this one.
And like the disciples, we too, are called…
- to share the Good News,
- to proclaim the good news about forgiveness of sins,
- to share the stories of our faith.
- to live our lives loving as we have been loved, as a testimony to the One who sent us God’s Spirit to continue to share his message.
God’s Holy Spirit is still blowing through our world. Where is it blowing you?