Sunday, 23 May 2010

Sermon for 23rd May 2010 The Revd. J. Michael Povey at St. Boniface Church, Siesta Key, FL

Sermon for 23rd May 2010 The Revd. J. Michael Povey at St. Boniface Church, Siesta Key, FL

Acts 2: 1-21; Romans 8: 14-17; John 14: 8-17

Do you remember what happened on January 10th this year? You’ll probably say yes if that day was your birthday or your anniversary, or if on that day you fell in love.

I suppose that I am the only person who remembers that I preached here that morning! 

The sermon was all about the Holy Spirit – giving the big picture of the Spirit: the Spirit as wind which blows down old barriers; and as fire which burns up old prejudices. 

You will of course also remember that when Wes Wasdyke preached here just a few weeks ago, he too spoke of the Spirit, and he directed us to “hold on to our hats, for the Spirit is blowing.

Once again today we encounter that windy and fiery Spirit, the Spirit who drives the disciples out of the house and into the street. 

That is the big picture Spirit, the One who energises us to join in with God’s mission of the reconciliation and healing of “the earth, and all that is therein”. 

There is also a smaller picture, a more intimate experience of the Spirit of which I will speak in a moment.

I will refer to the Spirit as she. The Hebrew word which we translate as Spirit is “Ruach”. In Hebrew that is a feminine gender noun. Many of us use that fact to give ourselves permission to call the Spirit “she”. It’s a very slender reed on which to hold, but it is the read which we have. The point of course is that God is neither male, nor female but if we only always refer to God as “he” we shall begin to believe that God is male. That is not good! 

On the Day of Pentecost she comes:

Like the murmur of the dove's song,
like the challenge of her flight,
like the vigor of the wind's rush,
like the new flame's eager might:
come, Holy Spirit, come.

She who comes to us, as she did to the disciples, is no respecter of persons.   

She pays no deference to the rich and famous .   

She is not interested in hierarchy. 

She is poured out on all flesh. 

Neither sex nor age will be impediments to her. Sons and daughters will prophesy. The old will dream dreams, the young will see visions. Old and young. Sons and daughters. Little children and great-grandparents. Young men and women bound for College. 

The Spirit is here for each and all of us. Pray with me “Come, Holy Spirit, come”.

This gracious Spirit creates a new family, a new community. 

Our scripture says: “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For (we) did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but we have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry ‘Abba! Father!’ it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God”. (Romans 8:14-16)
In this new community there is tenderness and intimacy between we the children of God, and the God and Father of us all. 

We are no longer in the world of “Father knows best”, but in the world of “Daddy loves the dearest”

“Abba” is that tender word which means pretty much the same as “Dada” or “Daddy”.

If for reasons from our own history and experience we cannot conceive of a father whose love is tender, then we might also say “Amma” or “Mommy”. 

The word we use is not important. 

What is important is the relationship into which we are brought. The Spirit of God within us is calling us to experience God’s love in the tenderest and most intimate way possible. Pray with me to be embraced by that tender love, a love as gentle as the love of Mommy or Daddy for a new born child.

Pray with me “Come, Holy Spirit, come”.

There is a “place within us” where conscience, intuition, hope, fear and passion intersect. Perhaps it is the sub-conscious, perhaps it is the unconscious. 

It can be the place of our greatest hope. It can be the place of our deepest dread. 

We are sometimes reluctant to enter into that sphere. 

There are windows into that place

The windows might be found in our dreams as we sleep, or in a pressing crisis, or in good therapy, or in meditation. 

As we gaze through the window,  it is to find that the Spirit is already there. 

She is encountered at the very place where conscience, intuition, hope, fear and passion intersect. 

She is there to call out the prayer which we do not know how to utter.

In his letter to the Romans St. Paul describes it this way: “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought. But that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words”. (Rom 8:26) The Spirit gives prayerful expression to our sub-conscious and unconscious being. 
Invite the Spirit into that place.  

Please pray “Come, Holy Spirit, come”.

From the Gospel according to John: “On the last day of a festival,.....Jesus...cried out ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come me, and let the one who believes in me drink.....Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water’. Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive” (John 7:37-39) 

God, the Holy Spirit comes to the dried up, barren, fruitless wildernesses in our lives. She comes as a bright bubbling spring, refreshing and renewing us. 

This being so, we the believers can never give in to despair. 

Nor can we the believers ever accept that all is futile. 

We, the believers are those who are being refreshed by the Spirit in order that we might be the sources of refreshment in a dry and weary land. Pray now with me for the renewing and refreshing “bubbling up” of the Spirit within. “Come, Holy Spirit, come”.

There is a corny old story about the Southern Baptist Minister who asked an Episcopal Priest “Do you believe in infant baptism?

“Believe in it” she said, “bless your heart I have seen it!” 

Do we believe in God the Holy Spirit? “Believe in her” we say, and then "Bless our hearts, we have experienced her!"

Like the murmur of the dove's song,
like the challenge of her flight,
like the vigor of the wind's rush,
like the new flame's eager might:
come, Holy Spirit, come.

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