Sermon: Pentecost 2009

Equipment: Popcorn and Popcorn Maker

Sometimes the best way to think about something so complex and multilayered as the action of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost is to use a really, really simple analogy.

Here in my hand I have a few small corn kernals: they are closed, tight, hard. You can fit them in a small space.

They remind me of the first disciples: although they had witnessed the resurrection, encountered the risen Christ and seen first hand the power of God, they remained small, frightened, unsure and (literally) dis-spirited.

We place them in a small place, a small upper room (put them in the popper) a room where they might re-enact a meal, a ritual of when he was there.

To these small items, we add something powerful: the word of the Holy Spirit: a mighty wind (turn on the popper) and we begin to see a transformation: we cannot see the Holy Spirit herself, but we can see the action she has on the disciples.

(The corn begins to pop) An explosion of energy! A rapid expansion! Beyond the confines of the upper room and into the world, the disciples are no longer tight, hard, withdrawn, but open, fluffy, delightful!

Some are spread far and wide into the world (making a mess on the altar floor). It transforms the ritual of bread and wine from a simple memorial to a living reinactment – as the Holy Spirit brings Christ present in our midst and the body and blood of Christ feeds the dynamic, living, blown apart world of faith.

My dear friends, the Holy Spirit is here with us today, and can transform you in equally dynamic ways; the Holy Spirit can take that inner hardness, reticence, fear and doubt and help you to be open, fulfilled, released into the world to make a difference.

The Psalmist wrote “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps 34:8)

, for it is through experience, not deduction or logic that we know this to be true. Taste and see my dear friends, and you will know that by the work of the Holy Spirit, we are transformed, we are like those first disciples, we are bursting with the energy and the love of God.

(Eat popcorn) We have tasted, and we know. Come Holy Spirit. Come. Yummy. Amen.



Dear Friends

It is not my role to encourage anyone in this church to vote in one way or another, and I would never wish to.

However, I am aware that certain extremist parties: parties with a single agenda have tried to use the image of Christ in their campaigning.

They have tried to use the faith as a matter of division rather than of unity, and have created capital out of the fear of Islam and have used homophobia and xenophobia as a tool of electioneering.

As a Christian and as a pastor in this community, I feel that this must be condemned.  The advert asks “What would Jesus do?” It would certainly not be to behave like that, it would be to love and to embrace, and not to seek to marginalise or wrap himself falsely in the union flag (another claim which I find offensive as a patriot).

The encouragement I would want to give everyone is that you really should vote. I don’t personally care what you vote for, but in these days where the credibility of politics is at an all-time low, a low turn-out on election day gives greater weight to extremist politics; I know that you might think “Oh, I won’t bother, they’re all such a bunch of liars and cheats”, but apathy is the enemy of faith and of democracy. If a low turnout gives them and those like them a platform, it might serve to further fragment our already fragile democracy into selfish political opportunism, ready to exploit our Saviour for their own ends.

No matter who you vote for, please vote. And let us pray that God’s hand will be in all this.