Sermons

"Love is the Way!" A Sermon for Pentecost, Year B

"Love is the Way!" A Sermon for Pentecost, Year B

May 20, 2018

Passage:Acts 2:1-22

Preacher: The Rev. Dr. Robert Pace

Series: Pentecost

Category: Love, Holy Spirit, Pentecost

Keywords: holy spirit, love, pentecost

Summary:

On this Feast of Pentecost, how can we relate to the description from Acts about the coming of the Holy Spirit as a "rush of violent wind" or with tongues "as of fire" coming upon us? But perhaps we have witnessed a scene this weekend similar to that of the early apostles... Presiding Bishop Michael Curry spoke about God's love to three billion people... and they heard him!

Detail:

In the name of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

This is quite a day in the life of our church. It is a great day of celebration. In addition to it being Sunday, the Lord's Day, we are also [at the 10:30 service] recognizing the wonderful graduating Seniors and those who have completed Education for Ministry. Also, on this day, we are celebrating the ministry of Sheri Langford, who will retire at the end of the month after fifteen years working for this parish as our Finance Manager.

All of this activity coming together on this particular day is appropriate, because today is also one of the historic seven principal feasts of the Church--the Feast of Pentecost.

I love the fact that we are here to celebrate all of these things together on this Pentecost Sunday. This is the Sunday that we really get to think about and talk about and BE about the Holy Spirit. We wear red vestments and red clothes to represent the Holy Spirit.

So what are we really celebrating? What is Pentecost?

We heard from Acts that the Holy Spirit came to Jesus' closest followers at a point when they were pretty low. Jesus had been with them. He had taught them. He had loved them. Then Jesus had been killed, brutally, on a cross. Much to the shock, surprise, and utter joy of these followers of Jesus, he then rose from the dead to walk among them again. But he did finally ascend, leaving them to be only with each other. He told them to go into all the world and spread the Good News of God's love.

As we can imagine, this scared bunch of disciples had no real clue about how they might go about this important task. But now, on the day of the Shavout--the Jewish Festival of the Weeks--or in Greek, the Pentēkostē, they were all together. And the Holy Spirit of God came upon them. It came with the sound like the rush of a violent wind.

The rush of a violent wind.

Remember that Genesis 1 tells us: "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."

So in that room on Pentecost, the same Spirit that had brought forth creation was now present with those first, terrified followers of Jesus.

We also learn that divided tongues, as of fire, rested on each of them. This does not mean, that the Holy Spirit is made of fire, but that something happened in that room, like a fire.

And each of these men were now empowered to go out and speak. They were going to communicate the Good News of God's love in a way that could be heard by all.  

Out in the city, massive crowds had come for the festival. Devout Jews who were Parthians, Medes, Elamites, Mesopotamians, Judeans, Cappadocians, Pontians, Phrygians, Pamphylians, and Egyptians all hear the Good News of God's love being proclaimed by these apostles. Importantly, they can hear it all in their own language.  All barriers are broken down. They are one family under God.

THIS is what we celebrate with the Feast of Pentecost.

But is any of this relevant to us today?

I mean, it can be hard for us to find connection to a story about the Holy Spirit coming like a mighty wind or being present like a flame of fire--especially when we have such tragedies and pain and suffering still in this world today.

Our day-to-day lives are hectic. We meet each day with challenges and difficulties and, for some of us, with pain and sorrow. And on the larger scale, in the last two days alone, we have had two more school shootings in our country.

Can we really believe in the power of the Holy Spirit?

Can we really hope for the presence of God in our lives in a real and meaningful way?

Well, I hope you know that I am going to say, "YES!"

One piece of evidence that helps show us the power of the Holy Spirit in this world--the in-breaking power of God--was with the Royal Wedding in the U.K. yesterday.

It's estimated that upwards of three billion people around the globe tuned in via television and the internet to watch the wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

What's remarkable about it, is that many of these three billion folks thought they were just showing up to watch the fairy tale. They were gathered around to see the dress, the pomp and circumstance, celebrities in attendance, and the ring. And all of those things were present. The wedding was beautifully choreographed and had all the elements to please royal fantasy.

But these three billion watchers also tuned in and saw and heard our Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry, deliver a powerful sermon about the love of God.

Judging from the British and the world press--they are in shock and awe by our Bishop.

All over the world, the press is describing Bishop Curry's sermon as having "stolen the show." They say it was "powerful" and "stunning." It "wowed" everyone who heard it. Video clips of the sermon are all over the internet. Transcripts are copied everywhere--even places like "Buzzfeed." When did Buzzfeed last publish a sermon?[1]

Why?

Bishop Curry preached about the power of love. He told the world that "We were made by a power of love." Not only that, he said to those three billion people, "Our lives were and are meant to be lived in that love. That is why we are here."[2]

Bishop Curry quoted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., saying that We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love. And when we discover that, we will be able to make of this old world a new world. Love is the only way.”

Those three billion people heard that message. Those three billion people gathered around--much like two thousand years ago when the Parthians, Medes, Elamites, Mesopotamians, Judeans, Cappadocians, Pontians, Phrygians, Pamphylians, and Egyptians had gathered--and heard this good news.

Bishop Curry spoke of fire. He said that 'Love is the fire and the energy of life!"

In that room two thousand years ago, the tongues, as of fire, rested on the apostles and gave them the ability to speak. The Holy Spirit was present with them in a way that the whole world could hear the good news of God's love in Christ.

Now, two thousand years later, Bishop Curry--an Apostle in Christ's one Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church--on the eve of the feast of Pentecost told three billion people:

“Jesus ...founded the most revolutionary movement in human history: a movement built on the unconditional love of God for the world and the mandate to live that love."

And Bishop Curry concluded that:

"When love is the way, there’s plenty good room...for all of God’s children. When love is the way, we actually treat each other like we are actually family. When love is the way, we know that God is the source of us all. We are brothers and sisters, children of God."

The Holy Spirit--the breath of God--moves into the world. It frees people from those things that bind them. It raises them into new life.

So even though there are still troubles and difficulties in this world. We know the path to new life.

Love is the way.

Come Holy Spirit come.

Amen.

 

[1] See the link here: https://www.buzzfeed.com/buzzfeednews/michael-curry-sermon-royal-wedding?utm_term=.nn7klZO2Vv#.mgEZ6DWAxY

[2] Michael Bruce Curry, Wedding Sermon, http://time.com/5283953/royal-wedding-sermon-transcript/