Lectionary Year B
June 11, 2000
John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15

Contemporary Address


(FS) C. ADDRESS

"GOD IS STILL WITH US!"


Intro.-- Pentecost! It's a day that makes many presbyterians squirm with discomfort. Of course, it's about a rush of wind, and tongues of fire, and the first great evangelistic sermon.

It's also about Jesus keeping a promise made to his disciples. It was a moment that knotted the throat with grief. He announced his coming departure, but added that it would not be the end.

I. JESUS PROMISED TO SEND THE HOLY SPIRIT.

A. The Greek word "Paraclete" is translated in different ways in many Bibles. Those words capture at least a portion of what the Spirit does for us: "Comforter"; "Helper"; "Advocate"; etc.

B. The disciples would not be left alone. Jesus promised the Spirit! The word "Emmanuel" would still mean "GOD WITH US"...God with us in Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit!

C. God with us to comfort us; to teach us; to guide us. On the Day of Pentecost, with a rush of wind and with "power from above", that promise was made reality. This morning, we remember -- and rejoice! -- that God is still with us!

II. THE SPIRIT IS WITH US, AND ALIVE IN US. FULFILLING THE WORK OF WHICH JESUS SPOKE.

A. The Spirit would "convince the world of sin". The Church is so painfully vulnerable and fragile in the world. Idi Amin tried his best to destroy the Church in Uganda in the 1970s. And out of all the suffering and bloodshed the Spirit spoke through Festo Kivingere, astounding the world: "I love Idi Amin!"
Through the words of Scripture, through the words of God's people, the Spirit shows the world the grace and truth of God-- standing its expectations and values on end.

B. The Spirit would "lead the Church into all truth", revealing more about God and Jesus. It's an ongoing process. Jesus warned the disciples that they would have to learn more truth than they bargained for, more than they could bear at present, but the Spirit would lead them.

"Lord, you want me to go baptize SAUL OF TARSUS? haven't you heard what he's been doing to your people?" "What do you mean, we're going to let Gentiles into the Church without circumcizing them first!?"

C. In every time and place, the people of God have had to ask difficult and painful questions. We have ours, too. And not all of them are neatly packaged and tagged for us in the Scriptures.

1. "How can we preserve our heritage and language...without losing our young people to other churches?"

2. "How can...how will...what will we do?"

D. Jesus warns his disciples that the questions and issues will keep rearing up. But he also assures them that they will not be alone: they will have the Holy Spirit.

III. JESUS KEPT THAT PROMISE. AND THE SPIRIT IS STILL WITH US.

A. The Spirit still lights up the Scriptures for us, helping us to hear a word from God.

B. The Spirit still guides us...through answered prayers; through the opening and closing of doors; through the collective voice of the Church, gathered prayerfully and expectantly.

C. And at this table, where we rejoice in the Communion of the body that was broken to make us whole and the blood that was shed to cleanse us, we are reminded that we are not alone. In Jesus Christ, by the Holy Spirit, God is still with us. God is still with us!

NOTE: The church I serve celebrates the Eucharist at Pentecost.

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