John 15:26-27, 16:4b-15
May 23, 2021
The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, Pastor
Rush United Methodist Church
”When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf. You also are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning. But I have said these things to you so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you about them. “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to him who sent me; yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts.
Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because they do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned. “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
| Centering Prayer |
As “Jesus wept” (John 11:35) is the shortest verse in the Bible,
Pentecost is the shortest season in the Church year.
Pentecost is exactly one day long.
Every Sunday following Pentecost is known and organized
Simply by the number of Sundays following Pentecost.
For example, three weeks from today will be
The Third Sunday Following Pentecost.
Pentecost must be a big deal to liturgical peeps.
This liturgical numbering system continues until Advent!
Pentecost comes from the Greek Πεντηκοστή (Pentēkostē) meaning “fiftieth”.
Many of our Jewish ancestors hosted
an annual harvest celebration called “First Fruits”.
Ten percent of newly harvested fruits and vegetables
Would be given to the Temple or local Synagogue
To support the Rabbi and to feed the poor.
The culture of the tithe is rooted in the gifts of First Fruits, and
50 days later, Pentecost.
Following the ascension of Jesus
The second chapter of the Book of Acts
Reports the coming of the Holy Spirit
Fifty days after the resurrection of Jesus.
The Spirit descended with “divided tongues, as of fire.”
The Holy Spirit gave each the power to witness
In every language
To all the world.
In Peter’s following sermon to the crowd
He gives his first-hand, eyewitness testimony to
The resurrection of Jesus,
His ascension, and
Being seated at the right hand of his Heavenly Father.
Thus the beginning of a new Messianic Age.
Peter’s testimony led to the first converts to be
Baptized by water and the Spirit and to be taught the ways of Jesus.
The Church was born.
One can loosely say that Pentecost is the birthday of the Church.
Happy birthday, Church!
You just turned 1,989 years old
(assuming Jesus was killed at age 32 and his birth was in 0 AD).
As there are two different Creation stories in the Bible,
Coming from two different sources,
So, too, are there two different Pentecost stories,
Reporting when the Holy Spirit came to the disciples.
The most popular one is the one I mentioned, from Acts 2.
The other Pentecost story is found in John 20:19-23
“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.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
I hope Jesus was fully vaccinated before he breathed on them!
With his promise to send the Holy Spirit,
Our Gospel lesson for today is fulfilled.
God in the world,
Is the Holy Spirit.
While Jesus could interact one-on-one,
The reach of the Holy Spirit is global.
Back to our Gospel lesson,
Prior to his death.
Jesus is instructing his disciples in the Upper Room.
Much had been taught and demonstrated about discipleship
Over the final three years of his life.
After Jesus washes the feet of his disciples,
He teaches them about the primacy of love.
He informs them that He is the way to the Father.
Then he pivots.
Jesus changes the focus from himself
To the promise of the Holy Spirit to replace Him.
Most Christians, especially most Protestants,
Know precious little about the
Third Person of the Holy Trinity,
The Holy Spirit.
In sweeping statements
Jesus gives us a gold mine of information,
Here in the Gospel of John.
First, the Greek word used for the Holy Spirit is “Paraclete”,
(Par·a·clete /ˈperəˌklēt/ noun (in Christian theology) the Holy Spirit as advocate or counselor (John 14:16, 26) – Google search.)
Which means Advocate,
One who speaks and acts on behalf of another.
In antiquity a paraclete was a mediator, comforter, and counselor;
One who instructed, assisted, and enter pleas on behalf of others.
A paraclete’s comfort was more than condolence,
It was sound advice and direction.
(This, and the following portion of the sermon is indebted to the excellent exegetical work found in “Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary”, Soards, Dozeman, McCabe, p.175-177, 1993)
The Spirit provides
True advice and direction.
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth,
Testifying on behalf of Jesus Christ.
Disciples do the talking;
It’s the Holy Spirit of Truth
Dwelling in us
That gives us words, strength, and conviction.
Don’t sweat it.
We may be agents of the power of the Spirit,
But the work of Christian conversion is done by the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit of Truth –
Jesus is God’s son,
Born and dwelt among us.
Jesus was sent to the world as an act of love
That all the world would believe and follow him,
Not to condemn the world,
But that the world might be saved into eternal life.
Jesus taught and practiced a life of love,
Suffered and died on a cross to atone for our sins,
Was risen from the dead 3 days later, and
Ascended into heaven.
Testify to this truth and let the Spirit convict.
The Holy Spirit proves the world wrong about sin.
Condemnation under the Law is replaced
By the sacrificial, atoning death of Jesus.
The redemptive and saving grace of Jesus Christ
Extends to all the world,
Including those who have yet to come to believe.
The Holy Spirit proves the world wrong about righteousness.
The resurrection and ascension of Jesus
Clearly identifies who he is and
The authenticity of his teaching and love.
Righteousness is following in the way of the Lord,
Not unrealistic adherence to the Law.
Righteousness is loving the Lord,
Loving our neighbors,
Even loving our enemies.
The Holy Spirit proves the world wrong about judgment.
Though there may be setbacks and exceptions,
The overall trajectory of God’s kingdom is ever upward.
Good wins over evil,
Light prevails over darkness,
Jesus Christ prevails ultimately victorious over Satan and the forces of evil.
Lastly, Jesus teaches
The Holy Spirit will teach and guide you to all truth.
When the Spirit takes up residence in your life,
It is at work to expand your understanding of Jesus.
As the Spirit works
We develop a deeper comprehension of Jesus, …
… a deeper perception, thankfulness, and intimacy with God.
I use visualization to open myself to become
A welcome dwelling for the Holy Spirit to descend and take up residence.
I see the Spirit in the air that I breath.
In every breath,
The Spirit fills me,
Advocates for me,
Gives me words, and
Develops and deepens my intimate, loving relationship with Jesus.
To recognize the movement and work within myself,
Is to also recognize and honor the movement and work of the Holy Spirit within others.
Watch, listen, learn, discern.
Find truth. Speak truth. Come to truth.
Set the Holy Spirit free
And watch it set our church on fire.
Come, Holy Spirit. Come.
Happy birthday, Church.