1 Corinthians 12:1-11
June 8, 2014
What an eerie – and yet tremendously exciting – description of the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost we have in our Acts 2 passage. The story is intriguing and exciting – but let’s fact it – it is downright scary! Maybe the coming of the Holy Spirit is something we want to admire and look at – but keep at a safe distance – like a lion or tiger in the zoo whose strength and beauty we may admire as long as it stays behind the bars or on it’s side of the moat — but are not too comfortable with it if it gets up close and personal.
Is this the way we want to deal with Pentecost? Is this the way we want to deal with the coming of the Holy Spirit? Do we want to be able to admire it – but from a safe distance?
I wonder what would happen if we took the Pentecost story seriously – and seriously believed that the Spirit could move among us here and now?
You know — we may not really want to celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit! We may be scared of what might happen if we do. Yea — let Pentecost just be something that happened “back then” – let’s just observe it as a historical event – but let’s not get carried away with it. Let’s not act like it could happen here – and now. Let’s just nod at Pentecost – at the exciting renewal the Holy Spirit offers us — as we go about our unexcited and unexciting lives.
What do you think?
Is that what we really want to do?
Maybe so — but all the while we also bemoan the fact that we just can’t get anything going – we just can’t seem to grow as a Church or do what God is calling us to do.
Do you think that maybe we should take another look at the excitement and enthusiasm of the disciples on Pentecost and maybe take the coming of the Holy Spirit more seriously?
What do you think — can Pentecost happen again? Can Pentecost happen now? Can Pentecost happen – – – to us? Can the Holy Spirit really move among us and excite us – gift us – and strengthen us to do God’s work in the world – just as it did the disciples?
What do you think?
You want to know what I think? You can probably guess what I think. I think Pentecost can happen here and now, and that the Spirit can move among us and excite us here and now. In fact, I know it can. I’m crazy enough to believe that God’s Spirit is just as active and moving and powerful now as it was then. I’m crazy enough to believe that we can be renewed. I’m crazy enough to believe that the Spirit can touch us, excite us, and that we, as individuals and a Church, can make a difference as we go about God’s mission in our community and the world.
Friends — when the first disciples were touched by the Holy Spirit they were so excited they began to spill out into the streets with the message of God’s great deeds in to world, and I am crazy enough to believe that it can happen again, it can happen here, and it can happen now.
Why do you think the Holy Spirit moved among the disciples in such a powerful way on that day of Pentecost? I believe that God sent the Holy Spirit so that His work of salvation and healing and wholeness could be proclaimed and done throughout the world. While Jesus was a person in the world with a human body He did great and mighty things. He healed the sick, reached out to those in need, and even brought people back to life. He also taught the people what God wanted the people to learn. But only the people who lived in Palestine at that time and were able to see and hear Jesus were able to experience the Kingdom of God through Him. As powerful as the ministry of Jesus was, it was bound by His human abilities. But on Pentecost God came upon the disciples in the form of the Holy Spirit so that His work and will could be proclaimed and done in all parts of the world, and the Holy Spirit continues to come so that more and more people can hear about and experience the salvation and healing and wholeness of the Kingdom of God. Even today, even here, and even now the Holy Spirit can move among us in a powerful way and we can be renewed to do God’s work and will in the world in powerful ways.
Friends – this day does not have to be a day when we read about the coming of the Holy Spirit on the disciples on that day of Pentecost almost two thousand years ago and celebrate what a wonderful day it was – but today can be a day of Pentecost for us also – a day of renewal – a day when the Holy Spirit moves among us in a new way and we begin doing God’s will with new words and new actions.
Like I said before – this is powerful and scary stuff – but it’s God’s will.
So – what exactly is it that the Holy Spirit can gift us and renew us to do?
The Holy Spirit can renew us and gift us to do God’s will. In fact, the Holy Spirit can renew us and gift us to take part in God’s mission in our community and in the world through specific words and actions that show God to others – just as the disciples were renewed and gifted to take part in God’s mission when the Spirit moved upon them.
Here’s the thing: each of us are gifted by the Spirit to do things that help accomplish God’s mission in our community and the world.
Let me put it in a more pointed way: you are gifted by the Spirit to do things that help accomplish God’s work in the world.
Paul in our passage for today from 1 Corinthians 12 gives a list of some of the gifts the Spirit gives to God’s people. Paul says the Spirit gives these gifts “as He determines” – in other words, different people are given different gifts, but every person is given a gift and each gift is given so that it can be used to get God’s mission accomplished in this Church – in this community – and in the world. Each of us have gifts that we have been given to be used to get God’s mission accomplished.
You have been given gifts that you are to use to get God’s work and will done in the Church – in the community – and in the world.
So – what would happen if the Holy Spirit were to move among us in a strong and powerful way today just as it did among the disciples on the day of Pentecost? We all would become more active and we all would use our individual gifts for Gods mission in the world. You would become more active and would use your particular God given gifts for God’s mission in our community.
But – what types of things might you start doing? What types of things has the Sprit gifted you to be able to do? In our 1 Corinthians 12 passage Paul lists gifts such as wisdom, knowledge, healing, prophecy, discernment, speaking in tongues and interpreting tongues. While this is quite a list, I don’t think it’s to be an exhaustive list of things the Holy Spirit may gift you to do. Maybe your gift is the gift of teaching. Maybe your gift is the gift of singing and leading others in worship of God through song. Maybe your gift is working on committees or leading the Church in making the decisions that need to be made as we strive to serve God together. Maybe you have a gift of understanding finances that you can use to benefit God’s work in the Church. Or maybe your gift is the gift of serving others. Or maybe it’s working with the young people or the children and showing them the love of God. Who knows – your gift may be crocheting beautiful blankets or scarves that others can use. The point is that the Spirit gifts us in different ways. Your gifts may not be like someone else’s gift, but whatever your gift is, the Spirit has given it to you to use to get God’s mission accomplished.
Believe it or not you have been spiritually gifted. You have a spiritual gift to use for God’s glory and to accomplish god’s mission. If you know or have an idea of what that might be, I pray that you are using it and will always find new ways to use it. If you have no idea of what that might be, I pray that you will pray for God to show you what your spiritual gift is – and that you will use it.
If it’s teaching, teach. We need more teachers. If it’s singing, sing — we need more folks in the choir, and this summer we are going to be worshipping through music in new and different ways. Maybe you can help us with that! If you feel that working with the children or young people is your gift, do that! If you have ideas for how the Church can do a better job at reaching those in need in our community please share them! Faithful attendance to worship and fellowship times and Sunday School and Bible Study is also a spiritual gift we all could pray for and use!
The point is that you have been gifted – you have a gift from the Holy Spirit – that you can use to help accomplish God’s mission in our community and in the world. Find your gift – or gifts – and use it – or them. The point is that the Holy Spirit can move you in a powerful way and you can be renewed to be on God’s mission in powerful ways. The point is that today does not have to be a day when we read about the coming of the Holy Spirit on the disciples on that day of Pentecost almost two thousand years ago and celebrate what a wonderful day it was – but the point is that today can be a day of Pentecost for you also – a day of renewal – a day when the Holy Spirit moves in you in a new way and you begin being on God’s mission in our community and our world with new words and new actions.
Like I said – this is powerful and scary stuff – but it’s God’s will.
Let us celebrate Pentecost – the coming of God’s Spirit and the renewing of the Church in the past and here and now – as we come around God’s Table and partake of the Sacrament, and pray that God will move among us in new ways so we can be about His mission today and always. Amen.