Sermons

Come Holy Spirit

6/12/2011

Comforter Descending

5/23/2010

John 14:15-21

15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you.

18 “I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while, and the world will see me no more, but you will see me; because I live, you will live also. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”

Scriptural Readings

Title

Date

Related Hymns  (with links)                

Lift high the Cross                                  # 473

O God our help in ages past                 # 680

(Ref. 1982 Episcopal Hymnal)

Come Holy Spirit

Sermon given on 12 June 2011 by The Rev. Jon Roberts

Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, Venice, Florida

Pentecost by Jean II Restout, 1732 in the Louve of Paris

“Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love.

V: Send forth your Spirit, and they shall be created.

R: And You shall renew the face of the earth.

O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations. Through Christ Our Lord.”

 

This ancient prayer of the church, going back to the early ninth century, is commonly recited the nine days between Ascension and Pentecost. Nine centuries and nine days, point to the nine months

in which a mother carries her child. It is further illustrated by the French artist Jean Restout II in his oil painting of the Pentecost with the twelve disciples and the Ever-Blessed Virgin Mary with child, centered in the middle. The light comes down upon them from the heavens. Something is being born today.

 

Thanks to the miracle of fertility treatment, a woman was able to have a baby at seventy. When discharged from the hospital, her relatives came to visit. "Can we see the baby?" they asked. "Not yet," said the 70-year-old mother. Fifteen minutes later, they asked again. "Can we see the baby?" "Not yet," said the mother. Another quarter of an hour later, they asked again: "Can we see the baby?"  "Not yet," answered the mother. The relatives were growing impatient. "Well, when can we see the baby?" "When it cries."             "Why do we have to wait until the baby cries?" "Because I forgot where I put it."

 

In the western churches, we believe the day of Pentecost was the day the church was born; when the Holy Spirit filled the hearts of the faithful. In the eastern orthodox, it occurred at the moment of creation when the Holy Spirit renewed the face of the earth. Either way, thanks to the Holy Spirit, we are able to experience the miracle of our hearts being filled with joy and the earth being renewed. Thanks to the miracle of spiritual treatment, the church is able to keep giving birth later in its life. If we are to chart the succession of births from the eastern view to the western view, from creation to Pentecost, we cover a lot of nursery grounds.

We hear a lot of crying. Let's see if we can remember where we put some of them. Not long after creation, there is a story not often told. It comes out of Genesis, several years after The Flood. Noah and his wife, and their three sons, named Ham, Shem and Japheth, had many descendents and because of their faith in God they wanted to build a church. It would be the tallest one ever built.

It would be a mighty steeple. They intended to build it so tall that it would leave a mark, so that the world would never have difficulty finding it. Build it, they did. All the people spoke the same language in order for the work to go quickly. Perhaps it went too quickly because the tower now began to tilt. It went so high, so quick, that it listed over. At the moment of the crash, the people were scattered and confused. They began to wonder what this meant. Was God angry at them? Was their faith not strong enough?

Again, scattered and confused wondering what was born. What made matters worse is they now spoke different languages. Without a uniform direction to go they appeared to be "babbling."

This word, we get from this story of the Tower of Babel.[1] The people divided into camps and went their separate ways. The descendents of Shem would go on eventually to create the Jewish patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Holy Spirit was at work raising a new church in them.

 

Now let's see where we put the church in the light of the New Testament in the days of the apostles. It goes the opposite direction of Babel. The apostles begin their building of the church already scattered and confused. They were missing the Savior, Jesus Christ,          when a mighty wind came into the room, not toppling them over, but filling them up. Speaking in different tongues was the sign of unity, not division. What fell down in the Old was raised in the New. That's the miracle of the Holy Spirit. Later on, St. Paul cautions the Christians in Corinth. Don't rush into the parousia, the end times, thinking it is the job of the Church to rush into heaven.

To build our towers or to say that one gift is superior, we are to exercise all the gifts God has given. We are to rejoice in the richness of God's creation where people are of different races

and speak different tongues. This is the birthing ward for God. It is the world, where the church is embodied in the people who not only seek Him but who are patient in developing along the direction of His will. Will anyone today renew their vow of baptism? The moment when God came down and washed you clean? The moment when He touched your tongue as of fire to believe? Take this knowledge and assist in raising up new children of God. Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love.

V: Send forth your Spirit, and they shall be created.

R: And You shall renew the face of the earth.

O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful,  grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations. through Christ Our Lord.

 

[1] Genesis 11

Comforter Descending

Sermon given on 23 May 2010 by The Rev. Jon Roberts

Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, Venice, Florida

 

The Descent of the Holy Spirit by Anthony van Dyk, c.1618-20

Sanssouci, Potsdam, Germany

 

Flames of fire burning,
          Vision clear and bright.
             Winds of Spirit blowing,
          Whirlwind in my sight.

 

What can be their meaning?
            What the reason be?
               Comforter descending,
            Burn your truth in me.

 

Now my tongue is telling
            God’s own works of might.
                Spirit take me forward,
            Lead me to the Light.

 

Breath of God receive me:
            I retain no sin.
                Comforter descending,
            Bring your peace within.

 

Now behold the mystery
            That His love would give.
                Wind and fire of Spirit,
            Make my spirit live.

 

Now my tongue confesses
            You alone as King.
                Comforter descending
            Gifts to me will bring. [1]

 

Those who do not confess God alone as King

            are in the greatest need of a comforter.

Those who do confess God alone as King

            are the comforter to the greatest need.[2]

 

There was a young man by the name of Joshua. It was the final day of his summer missions trip with his high school youth group and they had some free time to explore the mexican town in which they were staying. That afternoon in the central plaza, his friend Steve, took out his guitar and started playing and they sang fragments of any song they could remember. Their repertoire included "The Star Spangled Banner", "Amazing Grace" and a few rock songs. Their cacophony drew many curious glances from the passersby, and to their delight a few passing tourists threw money into Steve's open guitar case. By the end of the concert, a group of raggedly dressed children had gathered around, staring in wide-eyed amazement at the pile of pesos in the guitar case. Hoping to make them smile, they took the money to a corner store where they purchased nine cans of soda. Eight of the children jumped for joy when they handed them the drinks, but one little girl wouldn't take it until Joshua spoke to her father. Thinking that the free soda must come with strings attached, he asked him in Spanish who had given it to her. Joshua replied with the first words he could think of: It was "un regalo de Jesus Cristo" - a gift from Jesus Christ. He nodded slowly at the little girl, and she drank excitedly. Two months later he began his freshman year of college, quickly involved in a long list of activities. As there were times when he reached the brink of burnout,     he remembered that day on the plaza and saw how much of his life had now become an attempt at proving he was worthy of God's love. He took a deep breath and reminded himself that Jesus’ love is un regalo, with no strings attached.[3]

 

Last week we had the great commencement as Jesus ascended into heaven. It was the great graduation celebration and now is the moment of Pentecost. It's the time when the light of Christ is passed along. It does not fade away but rather it is ignited by God's Holy Spirit and His truth burns in us. We strive to obtain an eternal light, one which never burns out when our tongue confesses God is King but it is hard, especially as time passes and we may forget. Recently, some of us discovered a rubric in our Prayer Book regarding the Paschal candle. This is the light of Christ brought in at the time of the Easter Vigil by the Deacon. It stays with us for nearly seven weeks, or fifty days, following that moment. It stays lit during the Ascension, forty days after Easter and at one moment someone said they were going to extinguish it because Jesus had left.  A faithful servant then presented the rubric in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer that specifically stated that such an action must wait until the day of Pentecost when the Comforter arrives and lights the spiritual fire within us. Apparently the practice of extinguishing the light of Christ on the day of the Ascension was revised because too many were saddened to think they had to wait an entire week before they received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. This must have been the feeling of those disciples who once again were feeling sad and alone. They were perplexed. They wondered "What can the meaning be?" A week later they would ask a different question, “How has the Holy Comforter descended upon us?"

 

We have a reflective moment in the Gospel today as Philip says, "Lord, show us the Father, and we shall be satisfied." "But how can you say, 'Show us the Father'? I am in the Father and the Father is in me", says Jesus.[4] It is to be as He foretold. He gave us another Counselor at Pentecost. The light never was removed from the world, but instead became located in those who believed in Him. Only when they had faith that He as always with them, no matter what and with no strings attached, could their tongues confess. In the same way, it is our own native tongue that is telling "God’s own works of might. Spirit take me forward, lead me to the Light." We can place all doubt, all fear and uncertainty upon the Lord in order that the Holy Spirit may edify and counsel us in our darkest hour. He teaches you of God's unfailing love that comes to those who believe he is the way, the truth and the life. In such a way as this, let your tongue confess that God alone is King as the Comforter descends; this gift to you, will He bring.

 

[1] Mrs. Sandra Davis, Pentecost, 21 March 1986.

[2] The Rev. Jon Roberts

[3] Joshua Sundquist, Daily Guideposts 2007, Guideposts Books: NY, p.207

[4] John 14:8-17

© 2012. Black & White Chi Rho Ministries 

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