Sermon, Pentecost Sunday, May 19, 2013, St Petri
Light the Fire
14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.[a] And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
Bonfires are great things to behold. A number of our families beheld one just the night before last at Roennfeldt’s property. We reflected on the description of the Holy Spirit as flame and fire in the New Testament. We can see that same description of the Holy Spirit as flame on our banners here in the sanctuary. It is good to look into those flames.
It was good to feel the glow of that bonfire and see the faces of God’s people of all ages lit up by that flame Friday night – God’s people, adults, and children and young people gathered around the flame seeing each other lit up by the fire of the Spirit as we live our lives in his glow, his love, his fire….
But, as we know life is not always like a nice cozy flame filled bonfire. Life can be cold. Life can be alone. Life can be doubting. Life can be confusing. What about when it feels like the flame is just not there? We can’t see the flame of the Spirit. We can’t sense the flame of the spirit working in us?
When we can’t or won’t sense or trust that God’s Holy Spirit is working in us we find ourselves giving up on all the St Paul says here.
When we are away from the flames either in fear, or doubt or because we are looking around in the dark trying to find some peace and joy in other things, we give up the truth that we are baptised dearly loved children of our God. We tend to dismiss the reality that we are still indeed being led by the Lord.
We think we are all alone in our day, having to churn out the good works to somehow stay connected to God.
We return to the slavery of trusting only ourselves or our idols for our day and our decisions and troubles which puts us right back onto that murky world of fear, self-centredness and timidity when it comes to bearing the grace and love of Jesus among others.
We reject the future we share in God – living outside of our inheritance – the truth that we are already adopted sons and daughters of God, heirs to all his promises and power for living this life well in Jesus’ name.
By our walking away from the bonfire of God’s Holy Spirit active in our day in love, we cannot hear the Spirit crying those beautiful words to the Almighty and Holy God of the universe, “Abba, Father, Pappa, Daddy”. In our cold fear and disconnected doubt, we feel fatherless, loveless, isolated and alone in this calling to live the life of a disciple of the resurrected Jesus. As a result we are a lone ember from the flames – slowly going out or of no warming, lighting value to anyone.
So, to live out our calling to be alive, be aglow, be functioning bearers of the gospel of Jesus, sharing the love and hope of Jesus with everyone, we need to hear, see, sense, feel and experience the warming presence of God’s Holy Spirit.
To be fully alive and fully aware and fully joy-filled and bold witnesses to the grace of God living in us we need to hear the Spirit’s cry, “Abba Father” in our own spirit and live from that warmth of belonging in the Lord and in each other as his church. To be the best partners, workers, students, friends, colleagues we can be we need to stay close to the glow of the Spirit’s counsel, power, dynamite, presence, wind and water…
But where? How? When? By what means?
Do we have to reach some spiritual place to get close to the flame of the Spirit?
Do we have to achieve certain good behaviour in God’s sight to receive the strength of the bonfire of God’s grace and power for living?
Do we have to understand certain mysteries or acquire certain hard-to-find wisdom to truly live as a loved person of God with freedom and courage for all we face?
No, No and No. We do not have to reach some super-spiritual place, do some super good works or acquire some super spiritual knowledge to hear the cry of the Holy Spirit telling us we are the dearly loved people of the Almighty, Holy and only Living God.
Before we are spiritually aware, perfect in good deeds, wise to the ways of God, the Spirit comes to us in the grace and power of Jesus’ fiery forgiveness, just as he did to those 11 Apostle’s and the whole world present on that great Pentecostal Day.
WHAT DOES THE SPIRIT DO?
The Spirit calls us from our darkness, idolatry, death and doubt to light, the worship of our Father in heaven, faith and life. He does this when we were in those things and when they still entangle us. He calls to faith. He calls to hope. He calls to love.
The Spirit gathers us. He places us all on the knee of our Father in heaven where we bounce to heart’s content in the joy of belonging to God, whether we are doubting, dying, disconnecting or dead on the inside. We are us because he has made us his community and he is sustaining us and firing us up for our prime purpose – to call and gather them in to the fire of God’s love and grace in Jesus.
The Spirit enlightens – he expands our limited horizons, teaches us the narrow way of faith in Jesus’ love in the everyday experiences of our life – suffering, joyful or otherwise. He walks with us to offer us wise counsel, good advice, power – dynamite of brothers and sisters in the same fiery community to be the enlightening presence of Jesus in this town.
HOW DOES HE DO THIS?
By the wind of his Word blowing through our minds, spirits and bodies. The Spirit of the Lord is the Word of the Lord. The Word of the Lord is the Spirit of the Lord.
Apart from the Word of God spoken, preached, shared, prayed, sung, lived out there is no faith and belonging in the one holy community of God. With the Word, the Spirit living, breathing, acting on us as we sing it, share it one-on-one, proclaim it, dwell in it there is calling, gathering and the lighting up of our hearts and minds like a bonfire.
The Spirit is the Word and the Word is the Spirit, poured over our heads in baptism in water, heard in our ears in that beautiful word of forgiveness for our sin, taken into our bodies in the bread and wine, the body and blood of Jesus in that holy meal of love, shared in our homes and our groups and between fellow travellers in this life led by the Spirit/Word, prayed to our Father in heaven in whose name we gather as we use the ancient words to sing, speak and pray our faith in his goodness and love.
So, can you see, friend, that you are always being called, gathered and enlightened by the Spirit. Will you trust that as you gather with everyone else here in large and small gatherings the Holy Spirit is offering you counsel, guidance, power for overcoming any sin and obstacle, power to live this life he has given you fully and freely with the joy of a little child being bounced on Dad’s knee?
WHAT’S HE DOING HERE?
St Petri – the community called, gathered and enlightened people by the flame of God’s grace, by the power of God’s dynamite of the Spirit rushing through our minds and hearts….
What shall we do fan the flame of the Spirit’s work here? What shall we do with this fire in the belly?
Mission. That’s what we shall do with this fire in our hearts. Mission. We will pull together and we will engage in the work of bearing witness to the flame holding us together in God’s presence. We will work while it is still day to be instruments of the Spirit calling, gathering and enlightening his people into the holy community of God the heavenly Father who loves all and welcomes all by faith in his Son, Jesus.
That is our task. The church only ever has one mission – to draw others to the flame. To be the flame in cold places. To be together so we can be apart so we can be together again – with a few extra people!
The flame s burning here, friends,. The Spirit is on to it. Things are on the move. The Spirit’s wind of change is upon us.
Here’s the Spirit’s question and invitation: What is God calling us as his community of the Spirit to do specifically in our place here?
That is the question on our minds and the question we are seeking the Spirit’s counsel on. Will you seek this with us and tell us what you here? What specifically is the Spirit wanting to make of us in these times ahead?
We can’t lose, even if we take some risks, because Jesus is the head of his church and the Spirit is the one active in love among us whether we get it right or get it wrong at times, he will stay and he will remain because he has said so.
What is the Holy Spirit saying to us about our mission – to be a celebrating people sharing the love and the hope of Jesus with everyone right here?
What might the Spirit be calling you to do and be here? Older, younger, newer, longer, saint, sinner, man, woman, powerful, weak.
What gifts has he given you for service in the mission we share?
Why has he placed you here now?
What changes is he nudging you to make?
What wind of change is blowing through your heart as you watch, do and listen here these days around St Petri?
It is time to think and pray boldly trusting each other and the Spirit’s promises and presence to call us, gather us and enlighten us on this question before us.
Spirit of the living God, come. Come to us your people here and show us the ways in which you are making us a community of people living in the last days who do indeed live in the power and the presence of the Holy Spirit, calling, gathering and enlightening
Jesus make us a people and a place where anyone and everyone can call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ (Acts 2:21)
MEDIA REFLECTION [wpvideo izqaApMb]
Share a time when you senses the leading of the Holy Spirit.
What kind of things hinder you from believing that the Holy Spirit is active in your life?
What helps you believe that the Holy Spirit is with you and helping you?
How has the Holy Spirit called you to believe and be a Christian?
How has the Holy Spirit gathered you to St Petri?
How has the Holy Spirit enlightened you as you have shared your journey of faith with other Christians?
How does being named a “son” of God and heir to Jesus’ throne make you feel and how does this truth help you live with confidence in the Lord?
The question, What is God calling us as his community of the Spirit to do specifically in our place here? was aksed. Share some of your thoughts on this question and pray that the Spirit would help us all ponder this and hear his voice as we journey on together in mission at St Petri….