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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

06042017 - Pentecost Sunday - "They were filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4)"

June 4, 2017
“They were filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4)”

Today we gather like the disciples did after Jesus had been crucified, like they did after His Resurrection that we celebrate with Easter, but today, only 10 days ago the Church celebrated Jesus Ascension into heaven.  Notice the Christ Candle, no longer resides on the floor representing Jesus Christ birth.  It no longer resides beside the font where we bring our children to receive the Grace, Mercy and Love of God in the Rite of Holy Baptism.  Now the Christ Candle is at from our perspective the ‘Right Hand’ of God.
The journey has been clear, well documented, well remembered, Jesus destination is now fulfilled, His destination and job is complete and Jesus Christ is secure in Heaven, but Jesus promise for the disciples in the year of His crucifixion and resurrection, is incomplete.  The next step for the disciples is recorded, not in the Gospel, but in Acts, the book that relays to us the development of the New Testament Church.
What happens to the disciples?  Simply, “They were filled with the Holy Spirit”.  The promise Jesus made to them long before that the Father would send the Holy Spirit to them.  This Spirit, the Spirit of Truth would inhabit them, infuse into their very heart and souls and involve them in the mission to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  This is the same Gospel we know and hear about when we gather here for worship.  It is the Gospel the disciples had witnessed of the salvation offered to them, by Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary.
Today we celebrate the Festival of Pentecost.  Pentecost is the Celebration of the Giving of the Third Person of the Holy Trinity, the Holy Spirit, not only to the disciples to inspire them to action, but it is the same Holy Spirit given unto each and every one of us in our Holy Baptism.  When “They were filled with the Holy Spirit” the disciples lives were forever changed, not only had they left everything to follow Jesus Christ, they now understood with the gift of the Holy Spirit given unto each of them, they would be willing to die in order that the message of the Gospel of Salvation would be given to all of mankind through them and ultimately to each and every one of us gathered here this morning.
Since “They were filled with the Holy Spirit” the disciples understood their role as followers of Jesus now changed from one’s who received directly from Jesus Christ, to now not only active participants, but devoted leaders in the New Testament Church.  And their following would come at a cost.  The cost would not be simply of time, travel or training.  The training was over, the Gift of the Holy Spirit given unto them on the first Pentecost would change their desire from staying their comfort zone to travelling to distant lands and the gift of the Holy Spirit would change their perspective of time.  Ultimately the gift “They were filled with [of] the Holy Spirit” would and did cost them their lives.
You see we remember on Pentecost what the cost is not only by reading the lessons, but especially with the color of the paraments that adorn the pulpit, lectern, the altar and even the stole I wear.  The red paraments signify the willingness of followers of Jesus Christ to die in order for the message of salvation to be proclaimed.  The best current example we have is the willingness of Christians to die at the hands of ISIS as martyrs for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Those who lose their lives and die a martyrs death truly it could be said, “They were filled with the Holy Spirit”!  Their willingness to die in order to spread the message of the Gospel, not only connect their baptism with their lives, but are intimately connected to and channel clearly how the disciples and “They were filled with the Holy Spirit”!

What can we take away from this?  We hopefully will not have the same opportunity like the disciples or Paul or even the martyrs of today in Egypt or any of the Islamic states to have to choose death rather than disown our faith.  What we can do though is pray for Christians throughout our world, those persecuted in distant lands, but also locally even in our own country and community.  For this can be our prayer that God not only would ‘come again’, but that until that time, we can ask to be just like the disciples and for the same gift they were given, since “They were filled with the Holy Spirit”!  AMEN.

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