Pentecost Sunday- Sermon
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life. Some of you may remember a handful of months ago Bishop Bradosky came and spoke to our congregation. I don’t remember whether it was in his homily or in one of his addresses where he spoke a poignant word about our Christian life. He said, "apart from the Holy Spirit there is not one thing that a Christian can do in the life of faith." Again, I don’t remember specifically whether or not he referenced the Apostle Paul’s words, but the sentiment is the same, “No one can say Jesus is Lord, except by the Holy Spirit.” There is nothing in our lives of faith that does not include the work or movement of the Holy Spirit. The Bishop is right and St. Paul is right, yet for some reason or another we seem to diminish and underplay the life of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We Lutherans are known for being 2nd Article people, that is Christ focused and centered people when it comes to our theology and worship. It is even one of our four values of the NALC, Mission Driven, Congregationally Focused, Traditionally Grounded, and Christ Centered. Our great gift to the whole Church catholic, as Lutherans, is our theology of the Cross. That everything we talk about theologically, biblically, and pastorally finds itself interpreted and understood by the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. We Lutherans take St. Paul seriously, “we preach Christ crucified.” Yet all of that has been stirred in our preaching and teaching, and blown into our tradition, by the Holy Spirit, the Lord the giver of Life.
But for some reason or another we seem to be bad about speaking of the Holy Spirit. In fact one of the worst Pentecost sermons I’ve ever heard, and as pastor trust me we know we preach bad sermons, but it came from a Lutheran pastor in a Lutheran congregation. At each and every time this pastor wanted to use a pronoun for the Holy Spirit in his sermon, he chose “it.” As if the Holy Spirit were a thing, an object, or some mystical force akin to the power of the Jedi. This is not what we believe and confess regarding the Holy Spirit, although the lightsabers would come in handy from time to time. The Holy Spirit is person, a person of the Godhead, three-in-one and one-in-three, proceeding from the Father and the Son. He is worshiped and glorified. He is God, the witness of the love between Father and Son. The witness of the love of Father and Son to us. He is Lord. He is the giver of life and that is from the biblical witness, from Genesis to the end. The Holy Spirit is there at work bring life. We remember the creation, where the Spirit of God hovered about the waters. We see in Genesis 2 as God breathes the breath of His life, the Ruach Adonai, the Spirit of the Lord into the clay man, Adam. We see Him again in the Exodus as He fills the various artists and builders with the gifts they need to see that the tabernacle, the altar, the ark, the lampstand, the table of the bread of the presence, the vestments, and all the other things used in the worship are completed and used in communion with God. He is there breathing into the lives of David the King, Solomon the Wise, inspiring their psalms and wisdom. He is there breathing into the Prophets, His prophetic word for the people, the judgment and salvation, the Law and the Gospel of God. He breathes words of life and hope for a hopeless Israel. He brings them the comfort of God and the assurance of the Lord’s redemption. As Isaiah speaks, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed.” Words that will find their fulfillment in Christ, upon whom the Holy Spirit will descend to do this very thing. To heal, to proclaim liberty, to give sight, and preach the gospel. He, the Lord and Give of life abides and remains with Christ throughout His ministry, the Son and Spirit joined in the one work and will of God. Giving life to creation.
In our Gospel lesson we see Him again do that very same thing, in almost the same fashion as Genesis. Where God in Jesus Christ takes men, lifeless men in their fear and guilt and self-imprisonment, and does what He did to Adam of old, He breathes the breath of life, the breath of God, the Ruach Adonai into them and giving them peace and the power of His life. He did it to the ten in that locked room. He did it to the rest of the church on Pentecost, all 120 who had gathered in the upper room and out the windows and around the house in flames of fire, with the sound of a might and rushing wind, the Sound of the breath of Almighty God. He breathes His breath of life into you. At Holy Baptism the Holy Spirit, the Lord the giver of life, gave life to you. Filling you with His gifts, drawing you into the waters of the font, and clothing you with faith. The Holy Spirit breathed into you the life of God, drawing you further into God’s life by point you to Jesus Christ and the free gift of salvation, hung upon the cross and bursting forth from the tomb. He fills you with His gifts for the building up of the whole Church in service to the Kingdom of God. God Has clothed you with the Holy Spirit and with His power made you a priest in His kingdom. On this day the Church celebrates the Spirit giving life to her, but today we also celebrate that through her He, the Lord, has breathed and given life to you.
Today is not only a celebration of the Church’s birthday, but of yours and of your faith. For even at this moment God continues to bless you with His presence in the Holy Spirit, of whom the apostle writes, you are a temple. You carry within you the Spirit of God who intercedes on us with God. Who brings us to faith each day to Christ Jesus and who continues to speak His same words that he spoke to the prophets in you, of Law and of Gospel, of joy and liberty, of sight and healing, of peace and everlasting hope. For the Holy Spirit has called you through the Gospel, enlightened you with His gifts, sanctified and kept you in the true faith. In the same way He calls, gathers, enlightens and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. In this Christian Church He daily and richly forgives all your sins and the sins of all believers. On the Last Day He will raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to you and to all believers in Christ. This is most certainly true.
Blessed is the Kingdom of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.