On this day we hear, once again, those beautiful words from the Gospel of John for the disciples to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
These scared and frighten followers of Jesus now receive power and authority to do God’s work and to communicate the Gospel to all people.
Today is a very special day in the life of the church.
On this day we praise God for the sending of the Spirit upon Christ’s Church.
We give God praise each and every Sunday for the sending of the Holy Spirit but on this very day, on Pentecost Sunday, we give special attention to this Gospel truth.
The word Pentecost comes from the Greek meaning fiftieth.
We give God praise for the sending of the Holy Spirit on the day that is fifty days past Easter.
Today is the fiftieth day past Easter.
Now what does this day, Pentecost Sunday, mean for us today?
Does this day still have meaning and significance for us?
I believe it does!
First, on this day we hear from the Gospel of John that we must receive the Holy Spirt.
Jesus does not give his followers a choice here.
He does not say to his church and to his followers… Decide now whether you will receive the Holy Spirit or not.
No, he says simply, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
In fact, in the Bible Jesus is telling his followers here to receive it.
It is a command.
Receive the Holy Spirt.
He does not say, “Receive the Holy Spirit if you feel like receiving it.”
He does not ask us, “Do you want to receive the Holy Spirit?”
Rather the Holy Spirit is a gift that Jesus is telling his followers to receive.
From this Scripture reading we understand that to be a Jesus follower it means that you have already received the Holy Spirit into your life.
To be Christ’s church in the world means that the Church is already filled with the Holy Spirit.
Living in the Spirit changes everything!
The Spirit gives us courage.
The Spirit gives us authority to name sin and then to forgive sin.
The Spirit gives us wisdom.
The Spirit creates peace in our hearts.
The Spirit works joy and justice in God’s church.
The Spirit empowers us to be the church together – unified and strong in the presence of the Spirit.
The Spirit works in us through the power of prayer.
During the past two months six members of our church have been praying over our congregation during this challenging time.
These six faith-filled followers of Jesus decided to be about the work of praying for our faith community during this difficult time.
They have also been lifting up other prayer requests to God.
I am grateful for their prayers during the pandemic.
Now on this day, on Pentecost Sunday, I invite all of us to continue their work of prayer.
In the power of the Holy Spirit pray for our church, pray for the ongoing work of God in the world, pray for healing and for new Spirit-filled life to come upon us.
Often challenges help us to grow spiritually.
Challenges can help us to arrive at new insights into the very nature of God and on the purpose of our lives.
When we face difficulties in life, we often gain fresh and new insights into God’s ways and into God’s will for us.
Again, and again we find that truth expressed in Scripture.
Through the challenges that we have experienced as a congregation these past months we have grown deeper in faith and in prayer.
We have seen again and again the hidden nature of God made visible to us in our virtual faith
Our desire to continue to praise God and to hear God’s Word has been made known to God through our coming together in this new way.
I believe that this has pleased the Lord.
I believe that God is happy by our desire to stay together during this time.
We did not simply say OK we are going to take a long break from God and from God’s Word at this time.
In a way that was faithful to God we found a new way to meet together and to give God glory and praise.
I am proud of our little church for staying together at this time and I believe God is too.
I believe God is pleased that we continued coming together in Jesus’ name.
We believe in God’s steadfast love and grace and we cannot even imagine life without it.
For us life without God is no life at all.
Life without the Spirit is no life at all.
The Holy Spirit has always been about the work of connecting all of God’s people together.
From all times and from all places the Spirit brings us together at God’s very large table.
Even now it is as though God has gathered us together at one table.
For the early persecuted Christians, they believed that Jesus was keeping them together even if
they could not meet together in one meeting place.
The Spirit was still at work strengthening the believers and drawing God’s people together even if they needed to be physically separated because of persecution.
Today in the world there are still Christians that are separated because of religious persecution.
These Jesus followers have no less faith in the Spirit’s presence in their community.
They believe that God can still work in and through their church.
We have not had to contend with persecution but we have had to deal with a deadly virus.
We have had to discern what care and love for neighbor means during a pandemic.
As the church council meets next Sunday to consider how we might meet once again in our church building, we pray for and ask for God’s protection and guidance at this time.
And we pray for the Holy Spirit.
Let us be about the work of prayer this coming week.
Let us pray for God’s will.
Let us believe in the presence of the Holy Spirit in our church.
The power of God is upon us and upon Christ’s Church.
After today we will be entering into the time after Pentecost in the church year.
May we be awakened to the gift of renewal and new life that the Spirit freely offers to our church.
This is the opportune time for our church to be renewed in the Spirit.
Let us pray for this renewal in the Spirit.