Pentecost A 2020
Grace to you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
This morning we gather via zoom to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost. Each year the church gathers to celebrate the birthday of the church, and to celebrate the day when the Holy Spirit was bestowed upon the Apostles and the Holy Spirit breathed energy into their faith.
Today we also remember the day when the Apostles were strengthened by the Holy Spirit to accept the Great Commission handed to them by Jesus Christ our Lord, to bring the message of God’s love and salvation to all people.
Pentecost is a celebration of New Beginning, and a celebration of God’s unconditional love towards His whole creation. As the Gospel in a nutshell states: 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. John 3:16-17
Today we are about to enter a time of New Beginning. For the last 10 weeks the sanctuary has been closed for “in person” worship. For 10 weeks the Sacrament of Holy Communion has not been offered to the community on Sunday morning in our sanctuary.
But soon, the doors to the sanctuary will reopen, and you will be invited to come and hear God’s Word; and you will be invited to come and receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion. In just a few short weeks, if all goes well, if there is not an increase of new coronavirus cases in San Angelo, the social distancing guidelines will be relaxed and we can again meet one another “in person” in the Sanctuary at Calvary Lutheran Church.
Our Gospel text today reminds us that just as Jesus breathed new life into the Apostles, Jesus breathes new life and energy into our community of faith as we prepare to go and share God’s love with others. The gift of the Holy Spirit is with us to make us agents of God’s unfailing love and forgiveness. We receive the Spirit not to keep it to ourselves but to use and share the Good News of New Life with others.
Have you ever heard about the “Dead Balloon?” If one observes a balloon with no air inside, it looks dead. Without air inside of it there is no life and no energy in the balloon. And the balloon will not move if it is dropped from our hands.
But if we blow air into the balloon, and fill the balloon up with our breathe, the balloon comes alive when we drop the balloon. And the balloon will fly in whatever direction the wind inside of it takes it. Here, let me show you. (Blow the balloon up and release it)
My friends, in a similar way, Jesus breathed life into his disciples. Jesus breathed upon them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” And as soon as the disciples received the Holy Spirit, New Life was breathed into them. And they became a New People, filled with energy and passion to go, and spread the Good News of Jesus Christ our Redeeming Lord.
I think we all know what happens to a balloon after it runs out of air. The balloon falls to the ground and becomes flat again.
But unlike the balloon, we do not become like a dead balloon when we feel deflated, because the Holy Spirit is with us forever. God has promised us that we will never run out of the Spirit’s power bestowed upon us at our baptism.
But we do need to gather for worship on a regular basis to strengthen us in our faith journey. We need to hear God’s Word; and we need to receive the sacraments to reinforce our faith. Did you know that the Great Commission that Christ gave to us begins in worship?
During worship we experience the Spirit’s power as our faith is strengthened, and our sins are forgiven, and as reconciliation occurs between people alienated both here in this sanctuary and outside of these four walls.
That is why, on this Day of Pentecost, we are invited to come and experience the transforming and sanctifying presence of the Holy Spirit within us, so we do not run out of air like the dead balloon. We need to hear the Good News. We need to receive the sacraments. Yes… Today fear is everywhere. The threat of the coronavirus is real. The riots, looting, and burning of property in Minnesota is a reality.
Things are not OK in our world. But as I have said before, this is nothing new. The disciples in our Gospel reading were also full of fear.
We are told “When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said “Peace be with you.’”
When fear had paralyzed the disciples and forced the disciples to hide behind locked doors Jesus appeared to them, and Jesus said to them “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
In the midst of their fear and anxiety, Jesus gave them something to do. And then Jesus empowered the disciples for ministry by breathing upon them and saying to them “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
And at that moment the Holy Spirit transformed them and gave them courage to be the people God created them to be. In fact, the disciples became fearless, and united, as they began to have a clear sense of their call from God.
We, too, have been strengthened by the grace of the Holy Spirit. We, too, have been given something to do. And that is why we too can come out from behind the closed doors of our lives.
Yes, life is full of “upper rooms.” Confusion, fear, and uncertainty is common in our world. But on Pentecost Sunday we are challenged to check the doors to our upper rooms and ask “Are the doors open or are we hiding our faith behind locked doors where no one can see the light which the Lord has lit inside of each one of us?”
I said earlier that we are about to enter a time of New Beginning. Soon we will meet again, in person in this sanctuary. Soon the Word will be preached, and the sacraments will be administered with God’s people in attendance. May the power of the Holy Spirit blow like a mighty wind in our midst so that others may also hear the Good News and feel the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
Let us pray: God of power, may the boldness of your Spirit transform us, may the gentleness of your Spirit lead us, may the gifts of your Spirit be our goal and our strength, now and always. Amen.
Hymn of the Day “O Day Full of Grace” ELW # 627
Prayer of the Day O God, on this day you open the hearts of your faithful people by sending into us your Holy Spirit. Direct us by the light of the Spirit, that we may have a right judgment in all things and rejoice at all times in your peace, through Jesus Christ, your Son and our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.