Sermon Series: A Place to Call Home
Title: “What’s Mine is Yours”
June 9, 2019
Rev. Sandy Johnson
Today is our final Sunday in our “A Place to Call Home” series. We have been on a journey together since Easter, searching for a place to call home, a place where we belong, a place where we can know and feel the Holy Spirit and presence of God.
We began with a gathering of disciples who had seen the empty tomb on Easter morning. They had gone to the Sea of Galilee as Jesus had advised before he died. While there Jesus approached them and introduced them to the idea of “home” reminding them that they will never again be alone. Forever they will be part of the family of God.
Next, we learned that all are welcome, and when we say all, we mean all. We have learned to avoid fear and doubt and to embrace the risen Christ as an open and welcoming presence. Then we considered that everyone has a place at the table, even our enemies. Jesus teaches us to demonstrate extravagant hospitality and focus on unity in the body, not division, especially during these divisive times in our church and country.
Our next lesson was, “Always Room for One More.” We learned that God continues to seek us and there is always room for one more believer, one more follower of Jesus Christ, and one more evangelist to share the good news.
Two weeks ago, we are learned how to become a church where love abides, where we can reside in love, where we can share love with our world and be loved in return. Which leads us to last week where we consider that God is always blessing, and we are always blessed.
This morning we end the series with Pentecost! The ultimate home coming! The time when thousands of people found their home with Christ, who came to realize and believe that what is Jesus’ is ours. Jesus teaches that, “What’s Mine is Yours.”
The Day of Pentecost was one of three holy days that the Jewish people celebrated. The Passover, Pentecost and the Feast of Tabernacles were festivals in which every male within 20 miles of Jerusalem was duty bound to attend. The setting for our scripture today is Jerusalem, which was full of these devote Jews, those who had traveled up to 20 miles to be present for the celebrations.
The Day of Pentecost was set fifty days following the Passover. For Christians it is fifty days following the resurrection of Christ. Some Jews called it “The Feast of Weeks” because it was a week of weeks following Passover (well technically a week of weeks plus 1!). The original celebration commemorated the giving of the Law of Moses at Mount Sinai. It also was a time to celebrate the harvest.
The town was overflowing with humanity. Everyone was there, all cultures, languages, nationalities – the diversity was obvious. In the midst of this mass of people, something dramatic happened. “The Disciples had an experience of the power of the Spirit flooding their beings such as they had never seen before.”
Scripture says, “2 And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.”
Surprising, shocking, unbelievable! The noise of the event began to draw a crowd. It wasn’t just the disciples who heard the rush of a violent wind. I imagine it may have sounded like a freight train – many who have experienced a tornado say that the sound of the raging wind is similar to the noise of a freight train, racing by. Take a listen:
Projectionist: Please play: https://youtu.be/frJe8rioUKQ
Powerful. Intense. Attention getting! Even more astonishing was that these men from Galilee were speaking and those listening could understand them. Luke lists fifteen different groups of people who were known to be present and listening and they all heard and understood what the disciples were preaching. How can this be possible? Were the men drunk – those speaking and as well as those listening? It’s just. Not. Possible.
But it was happening, right before their eyes and ears as they heard about God’s deeds of power. They were amazed! Perplexed says scripture! I would add dumbfounded!
Having gotten the attention of the crowds, Peter begins to preach to them, explaining that no one has been drinking, it’s only nine in the morning! What they are witnessing is prophesy, spoken from Joel. Something remarkable was happening. The lives of the disciples would never be the same, neither would those listen and neither are we today.
Why does it matter? What was so significant about this show of Spirit power? This was the birth of the Christian Church. It signifies the beginning of the Holy Spirit’s working in the lives of Christ’s followers. The Spirit was not created on this day of Pentecost, no! Its existence was from the beginning, equal partners with God the Father, and God the Son. God the Holy Spirit. We have seen mention of the Spirit throughout the Old Testament; this was nothing new. What was new was the manner in which the Spirit took hold of Christ’s followers.
At Pentecost “the Holy Spirit became the dominant reality in the life of the early church…the Spirit was the source of all guidance. The Spirit moves Philip to make contact with the Ethiopian Eunuch; the Spirit prepares Peter for the coming of the emissaries of Cornelius, and then orders Peter to go without hesitation with these emissaries; Holy Spirit orders the setting apart of Paul and Barnabas for the momentous step of taking the gospel to the Gentiles; the Spirit guides the decisions of the council of Jerusalem; guides Paul past Asia, Mysia and Bithynia, down to Troas and then to Europe; the Spirit tells Paul what awaits him in Jerusalem. You see, the early Church was a Spirit-guided community.”
As a Christian Community, we are called to be led by the Spirit today. As Peter points out in his address to the crowd, this Spirit has come, just as predicted. The Spirit has come upon all flesh, sons and daughters, young and old, dreamers and visionaries. Slaves, both men and women, all are to share in what God has given to us. That is, the Spirit is given to “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord.”
Sometimes I think the Holy Spirit is misunderstood, so mystical it can be difficult to get our minds around. Biblical scholar “Frederick Dale Bruner shrewdly suggested that the Holy Spirit is the “shy member of the Trinity,” preferring to stay backstage, deferring to the glory of Jesus and the Father. Even on the day of Pentecost, the Spirit doesn’t make a grand, personal appearance. Yes, there was wind. Perhaps too much whiskey early in the day. Yes, they had fire on the heads. But it’s the people of God who take center stage, their hair tussled and singed, staggering a little, bolting out into the street, talking a mile a minute…
“In the Gospel, Jesus tantalizes by suggesting things will be even better for the disciples once he’s gone! But then the Spirit’s business isn’t a starring role at all. The Spirit is differential, glorifying the Father and the Son, like the stage director you never see but who makes the show unfold and keeps the stars in the bright lights, looking good.”
It is through the subtle yet constant presence of the Holy Spirit that we are able to do what we do. When Jesus shares with us what is his, we become co-creators with him in the ministries before us. Through the Spirit we are inspired to begin new things. Things like a cancer support group or Pride Brunch Bunch. The Spirit nudges us to be daring, to see how our gifts and talents can be used to make others’ lives better.
This Holy Spirit, this quiet yet constant companion, can be our best tool in the fight against evil, in our endeavors to be Christ-like, and helping us always to demonstrate the love of God through Jesus Christ, with everyone we meet. We must embrace and embolden the Spirit to work within and through us. We must practice the presence of the Spirit, seeking always to hear the still small voice inside our minds that leads us into a place of peace.
We must avoid thinking that our thoughts aren’t worthy, ignoring the thoughts that are divinely inspired. God wants to do great things through us. God wants us to be a family that welcomes all, a place where everyone can find home and security. The Holy Spirit is our guide, it is our compass, it is the voice we follow.
I think I’ve shared this before, but I was in my thirties before I really began to understand this part of the trinity, this Holy Ghost as it’s sometimes called. I mean, I have a clear vision of our creator God, Heavenly Father and Jesus, God’s only son is equally understandable. But this Holy Ghost…I mean what used to come to mind were ghostly images, white clouds floating around doing what I didn’t really know.
I had experienced the Spirit when I was younger, but I hadn’t put a name to it. That still small voice that guided me when I needed it. Like the time in my senior year at Oregon State when I was studying in the School of Forestry. I was really struggling with the curriculum as a forestry major. The Holy Spirit spoke to me through one of my professors.
He came up to the table where I was working and said, “What are you doing here?” I thought, well, isn’t it obvious? I’m studying my brains out!! Then he said “no, not today, what are you doing in the School of Forestry. You don’t belong here. You belong in Sociology.”
Then he left me to ponder the message he had delivered. The next day I went to see my counselor and was astonished to learn that I had, without knowing it, completed a liberal arts degree. All that remained was the upper division sociology courses. I would finish my degree two years earlier than forestry degree, only having to extend my studies to four years and one semester. My dad was so thankful!
Then there was the time when I was helping lead a retreat for high school students. I had gotten acquainted with one of the clergywomen and had shared with her that I had a call to ministry and then proceeded to tell her all the reasons why I couldn’t answer it. Particularly the part where I said I couldn’t give up my executive salary to become a minister.
She stopped what she was doing, took my hands and prayed, “Lord, please remove the bag of money that is standing between you and Sandy.” I know I’ve shared that before. It was a transformative event in my life. Those times when we receive direction, when we feel pushed or led to start or try something new, likely is the work of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is our guide, is our companion on this difficult path of life. Holy Spirit wishes to be our partners in ministry, leading and guiding us in the mission that Jesus has set for us – to love God and to love one another. We become a family of God when we embrace the Spirit and realize that we are home.
Perhaps like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, we
have always been home. It is my prayer
that this series has helped us to claim our place to call home, home with God
the Father, creator of all things, home with Jesus who redeems us and home with
the Holy Spirit who sustains us each day.
Welcome home dear ones! Welcome
 Barclay, William. The Daily Study Bible Series: The Acts of the Apostles, Revised Edition. The Westminster Press, Philadelphia, PA. 1976. Page 21.
 Acts 2:2-4
 Ibid. Page 19
 Acts 2:21