Sermon Notes: Pentecost Year A

Texts: Acts 2:1-11; 1 Cor 12:3-7, 12-13; John 20:19-23

  • The Christian Faith can mean all different kinds of things to different people
    • To some it represents tradition
      • It represents small ‘c’ conservatism
      • It represents heritage, large ancient buildings
      • An unchanging constant in their lives from their time as small children in Sunday School
      • It speaks of reliability, of always being on the corner of Elson Road and Elson Lane and never ever doing anything or saying anything that challenged the way things are in this world
      • It speaks of power, influence, establishment, privilege
      • …and when a Church of England Archbishop asks important questions of Society or the World, the Press and the Politicians who believe that this is what the Church represents cry “foul” and “religion shouldn’t mix with politics”
      • Bishop Desmond Tutu once famously said “I am puzzled about which Bible people are reading when they suggest religion and politics don’t mix. ”
  • To some it represents a fortress defending us from the evil of this world
    • A place where people can feel safe
    • A place where there is healing
    • A place where there is an answer
      • Some say “the answer is Jesus, what is the question” but it isn’t the answer to “who holds the record for the most goals scored for England from the penalty spot?”
      • The answer to that one is “Frank Lampard”
  • To yet others it represents a radical solution to the world
    • Where Gospel values seek to undermine the established order
    • Where Christ speaks directly to the poor and the dispossessed
    • Where the call to service of others asks us to abandon our comfort, our privilege and our security in order to make a difference in our midst
    • This is not, however, just the call of the liberation theologians of South America, the Marxist revolutionaries with a Cross and an AK-47
      • but rather the gentle, challenging and yet life-changing call of St. Francis of Assisi, and the Franciscans
      • of St. Theresa of Avila and the Carmelite Order
      • of the Gospel of Matthew and the Book of Acts
  • The Holy Spirit is all of these things and more (and that is a real paradox
  • The Holy Spirit comes to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comforted
  • No matter what we think things might look like now, one thing we do know is that they will look radically different in the light of the action of the Holy Spirit
    • In today’s reading we hear of those momentous signs and wonders in the upper room, and the transformation of the afflicted into the comforted and even more besides:
    • From here Peter stands and preaches with confidence and eloquence
    • He cites the prophet Joel and recalls that the Spirit of the Lord was promised to be poured out (the same work Paul uses in his letter the Phillipians about Christ pouring himselfout on the Cross – a selfless, giving, willing action) on everyone
      • Yes, everyone
        • Slave & Free
        • Rich & Poor
        • Men & Women
        • Young & Old
    • You might want to put in for yourself some other definitions of “universal” which we in this Church seek to establish based on this very Scripture and which certain sectors of the Church still cannot abide
    • But the Scripture is clear
    • The action of the Holy Spirit and the Call to Ministry applies to everyone
    • The Ministry of the Church belongs to all, to be given to all and to be given by all
    • Paul in his letter to the people of Corinth speaks of the different gifts given to us in the same Spirit
      • He uses that analogy of the unity of the body, made up of different components
    • The Spirit of God has no favourites and pulls no punches
    • Christ himself uses the Holy Spirit as a vehicle of Ministry and by breathing it over his disciples he further equips them for Ministry and Service, giving them authority, his authority over sin.
    • We should therefore ponder for a moment what it is that Christ is calling us to
    • We should reflect on Christ’s call in our lives
    • Where he wants us to deepen our journey, our faith, our engagement
    • Where he calls us to action
    • Where he calls us to make a difference in the lives of others, bringing them hope and comfort and healing
    • Where he calls us to bring the Good News to all people
    • To comfort the afflicted and afflict the comforted and proclaim that (in the words of Christ himself) the Kingdom of God is close at hand.

Amen