Whitsunday 2011

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“Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid”

Have you ever been in a situation where you have to wait for something that you were expecting but was taking too long to be fulfilled? Waiting can drive someone crazy. People get impatient when they have to wait too long: the Verizon guy to come between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m.; a baby to be delivered; the Christmas package to arrive; waiting for God to answer prayer; We get frustrated with God when we think we are ready but he seems to be taking so long.

The experience of the disciples of Jesus

The disciples of Jesus, as we find them in the Acts of the Apostles that we just read, have been waiting. Do you think patiently? I am not sure about that. There is no evidence in the New Testament that those disciples—who have been in the company of Jesus for more than three years – had the spiritual maturity to wait patiently for anything.

In John 21: 3 we read that Simon Peter told his fellow disciples “I am going out to fish”. This means that the waiting was too long for him. He just decided to go back to his former life. Waiting for the fulfillment of the promise of God is not an easy thing. Waiting in prayer until God says yes is something challenging. Consider Thomas: he was not ready to wait on anything that did not carry some kind of physical evidence to it. James and John, the sons of Thunder with their flash-fire temper would never be patient about anything. Waiting can drive someone crazy. It will only take the Spirit of God to keep you waiting for his promise. And that’s what happened in the case of the disciples of Jesus.

The Holy Spirit and the disciples of Jesus

The term disciple is derived from the Greek word maqhthV (mathetes), coming to English by way of the Latin discipulus meaning “a learner”. In other words a disciple is a student. So those men and women who were following Jesus during his ministry were learning from him. They were learning things concerning God and the kingdom of heaven. But it will take the Holy Spirit for the disciples to be transformed into the image of Christ.  With the Holy Spirit, they will begin to find their identity in Jesus, worship Jesus with all their life, live in community, and be on mission to make more disciples for Jesus. That’s what Pentecost is all about: transformation, renewal, and change of condition.

I see numerous lessons in what we are celebrating today:

  • The importance of the Holy Spirit. There will not be any gospel preaching without the Holy Spirit living in us, empowering us for the work of God. Jesus instructed his disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they were “clothed with power from on high (Luke 24: 49). There will not be a church without the Holy Spirit.

We are a congregation led by the Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit, it would just be a club or an association where people come to fellowship, to achieve some specific goals, or to follow some rules or regulations. We live and work by the power of the Holy Spirit. We pray, we sing by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Bible says “sing to the Lord a new song”. But how can we do that without the inspiration and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Only by him we effectively pray and sing to the Lord.

  • The Holy Spirit unites all believers into one body, the body of Christ, which is the church. The church grows through preaching about Jesus Christ, but also by discipleship, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer.  The Holy Spirit leads us into such expressions of our new life in Christ. This means that beyond the diversity of the church, the Spirit of Jesus is bringing us into one body, one family of God. Do we really feel that unity in our church? We are called St. Andrew AND St. Margaret of Scotland. Beyond the diversity within the church, do we really allow the Holy Spirit to establish and maintain that unity for which Jesus prayed in John 17 “Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one” (John17 :11)? The event that we are celebrating today is one of unity, concord, and harmony. Don’t let Whitsunday 2011 be like Whitsunday 2010. Something new must take place in our church this year. Allow the Spirit to bring revival and change to the way we do things so that the kingdom might be established in our midst.
  • There is also an individual and personal dimension of the work of the Holy Spirit. Just think of those moments when you felt so depressed. Life situations had beaten you down. Your best friends had not proven faithful to the love that you had for them. The journey of life had reached a dead-end. The path was so tight that there was not even enough room to turn around. And when it clearly appeared that you were not able to take it anymore, the Holy Spirit came. As he did in the valley of Ezekiel, he breathed new life into your dry bones (Ezekiel 37: 1-14). He made you understand the word of God in the Book of Jeremiah, “there is hope for your future” (Jeremiah 31: 17). There is hope your future. There is hope for the future of our church. There is hope for the future of our Diocese.

It is true that we are all Easter people. But even with Easter we still need Pentecost.

Beloved, the time for waiting is over.  Let us respond to the outpouring of God’s great Spirit, and determine as individuals and a collective body of Christ that it is time for us to deliver.

Lord, come and anoint us on this Pentecost day.  Give us tongues of fire to share our faith.  Send down the Spirit that gives us courage to let go and let you be in control of  our individual and collective lives.  Inflame us with your Spirit, that we might deliver the good news of salvation. In Jesus Almighty Name we have prayed. Amen!