Genesis 11:1-9                                                                                                                            

  Acts 2:1-21                                                                                                                                        

  “Do You Believe In The Holy Spirit?”      

May 15 2016  Pentecost (Communion)                                                                                                                             

I read about a Sunday School teacher who taught her class the Apostles Creed by giving each child one phrase to learn. When the day came for the class to give their first recitation, they began wonderfully.                                                                                                                                                                                            

“I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth,” said Tommy. “I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son our Lord,” said Natalie. And so it went perfectly. They came to the child who said, “He ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty: from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.” And then there was silence. The next line, of course, was:  “I believe in the Holy Ghost” but there was only silence. Finally, a little girl spoke up and said, “Teacher, Sam is the one who believes in the Holy Ghost, and he’s not here today.”                                                                          

            Here we are on this day of Pentecost, the day we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit, or what the Apostles Creed refers to as the “Holy Ghost”, but, sometimes, friends, it may seem like Christians who truly believe in the Holy Spirit and let the Holy Spirit change them and empower them to do the work of God in the Church, the community, and the world are few and far between.  It may seem like those who believe in the Holy Spirit are not here.    

How about it? Do you believe in the Holy Spirit? When God blessed the disciples with the Holy Spirit, He blessed them with the   strength they needed to do His work.  He blessed them with a sense of renewal and excitement. He blessed them with the power to serve Him and do His work and will in the world. He blessed them with the sense of unity and purpose that they needed to bless the world with God’s will. Once the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples they believed that they could do anything God asked them to do and committed themselves to being the followers and workers God called them to be. Once the Holy Spirit came upon them, the disciples believed in the strength, the excitement, the new life, the renewal and the power of the Holy Spirit, and they committed themselves to using that strength, excitement, new life, renewal, and power to help them do the will of God in the world.

The disciples believed in the Holy Spirit. How about you? Do you believe in the Holy Spirit?

Do you believe in the strength, the excitement, the new life, the renewal, and the power of the Holy Spirit? Do you believe in the strength, the excitement, the new life, the renewal, and the power the Holy Spirit can give you? Do you believe that the Holy Spirit can change your life, strengthen you, excite you, renew you, empower you, really make a difference in your life, and through you really make a difference in the Church, the community, and the world as you do the things the Holy Spirit calls and empowers you to do? 

Do you believe in the Holy Spirit?

Today is the day of Pentecost, the day we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the first disciples, and the power and renewal and excitement and strength it gave them to do God’s work. But we don’t have to treat the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples as something that just happened almost 2,000 years ago that we can look at when we read our Acts 2 passage for today and say: “Isn’t it wonderful what God did to the first disciples on Pentecost?” “Isn’t it wonderful how the Spirit gave them what they needed to do God’s work?” and then walk away from it like we would a story in a history book. The coming of the Holy Spirit is indeed wonderful and indeed historical, but there is much more to it than just the historical nature of the event. There is the wonderful, beautiful fact that the Spirit can come with all of its renewing and exciting and strengthening power here and now. There is much more to Pentecost and the work of the Holy Spirit than the fact that the Spirit empowered and excited and strengthened the first disciples to do God’s work. There is the wonderful, beautiful fact that the Spirit can come upon us, and we can be renewed to do the work of God in the Church, the community and the world.

Do you believe that? Do you believe in the Holy Spirit? Believe it, friends. Believe in the Holy Spirit. Believe in the power, the excitement, the enthusiasm, the new life, and the strength the Holy Spirit can give us, and claim that for yourself. Believe that the Holy Spirit can strengthen you to do God’s work and will in the Church, the community, and the world, and claim that strength the Holy Spirit offers for yourself and take it into the church, the community, and the world as you do the things God calls you to do for His work and His mission.   

On the day of Pentecost, May 19 1991, Sally and I and our families were at a Holiday Inn in Decatur, GA for my Doctor of Ministry degree graduation from Columbia Theological Seminary. I was excited and could not sleep, so I was reading from Acts 2 as Saturday night turned to Sunday morning.  A few minutes after 12 on that Pentecost day a voice alarm blared through the building:

“There is a report of a fire in the building. Please exit the building.”

“There is a report of a fire in the building. Please exit the building.”

“There is a report of a fire in the building. Please exit the building.”

On and on it droned as people got up and obeyed the voice, exiting the building.

We made sure all our family was safe as we gathered outside. A few minutes later we learned that it was a false alarm, and returned to our rooms.

Friends, the Holy Spirit is active and alive and can renew and strengthen us.  There are even reports of a fire, reports of excitement and enthusiasm and growth, among us here at Edgewood.  We have a new Director of Music!  Tim Lloyd is a part of the Edgewood family, and we are excited about the new direction God will take us in our worship under his leadership. We also have a new piano that is blessing and enriching our Worship! When you look at the adults gathered for our Believe! study on Wednesday nights, the folks gathered for fellowship times like the supper we had last Saturday, the folks gathered for Sunday School and Worship on Sundays, the children singing in Worship, our commitment to donating food and money and time to CUOC to help others, the way we support and contribute to many different special offerings like the Pentecost Offering we are collecting today to help young people make wise choices for their lives, the ladies who sewed the dresses that are now going to help those in need, and our commitment to support the Sanford Area Presbyterian Hispanic Ministry, you can’t help but feel the excitement and the fire of the Holy Spirit at work among us!         

Yes, there may be a report of a fire, a report of excitement and enthusiasm spreading among us. Let’s not let it be a false alarm. The Spirit can indeed excite, renew, energize, and strengthen us for God’s work and God’s will in the world, but first we have to believe that the Spirit can excite, renew, energize, and strengthen us for God’s work and God’s will in the Church, the community, and the world, and then we have to let that happen.

Do you believe that? Do you believe in the Holy Spirit?

Come, let’s gather around God’s Table for the Sacrament of Communion.  Let’s partake of the bread and the cup, celebrate what God has done for us and what God calls us to do for Him, and let the Holy Spirit bless us in a new way.

Come, and believe.  Amen.