Though the disciples struggle with Jesus’ nature and identity, they receive the promise that they too will be identified with God and God’s mission. Though he must leave them now, Jesus promises the coming of the Advocate whom God will send to comfort and enlighten them.
8Philip said to [Jesus,] “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” 9Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. 12Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. 13I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.
15“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. 17This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.
25“I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 26But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. 27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”
Sermon for the Day of Pentecost June 5th, 2022
Pentecost is not the first time the Holy Spirit shows up. The Spirit of God has been at work from the beginning, moving over the waters. The Holy Spirit is the Advocate, the Paraclete, the one who walks alongside, who guides and gathers, calls, and enlightens. The comforter and empower-er.
The one who filled the voice of Miriam and Mary, and causes Elizabeth to experience John leaping in her womb,
and the one who empowered Joshua to lead his people.
And appointed prophets to speak to the people,
the one who led Jesus into the wilderness,
The one who will be poured out into all flesh,
every person in every nation, young and the old.
The Holy Spirit has many roles and cannot be kept in a box. I referenced the Holy Spirit as a Babysitter in my sermon a few weeks ago – but even that puts the Holy Spirit in a box. On the day of Pentecost, the holy spirit shows us up in the book of Acts as a fiery force that bewilders the crowds and compels the disciples to speak – and not just in their own language, but to each of the nationalities and ethnicities present. The whole scene was so crazy, bystanders were sure they must be drunk.
The Gospel of John offers us another facet of the Holy Spirit’s action as Jesus promises another advocate. Just as he has walked alongside the disciples, Jesus as he has instructed them to love each other and serve each other and remain with each other. The disciples are struggling and scared. They are unsure and afraid of the future now that Jesus is saying goodbye.
In a last-ditch attempt to gain some clarity, Phillip demands Lord, show us the father and we’ll be satisfied. Jesus this is what we need to be secure and happy, just do it please. Like so many of our prayers when we are scared or confused, we ask for what we think will bring us peace and clarity. And Jesus gives not what we ask for, but what we need.
Comfort is sorely needed in our world. There are grieving families, too many to name. Churches are grieving. Whole countries are grieving. Listening to their pain and sorrow, walking alongside them without judgment or commentary is the work of the Spirit. We are not left alone, but the Holy Spirit is with us in this work. We are empowered by the holy spirit to show up for this work. As we buried a colleague yesterday, the bishop read as we all do at the beginning of the funeral service, pulling directly from 2nd Corinthians. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the source of all mercy and the God of all consolation. He comforts us in all our sorrows so that we can comfort others in their sorrows with the consolation we ourselves have received from God.” The source of all comfort and consolation is what empowers us to act.
But the Spirit also gives voice. There are victims of violence or abuse that feel left without an advocate. Victims of racism and victims of homophobia who experience injustice daily whose voices are silenced or unheard. When the church works together to amplify those voices – to be advocates – to serve the poor and to show compassion to the abused, the sick, or those in need – God is glorified. But when the church works together to glorify itself, to build itself up, and to make a name for itself, well – isn’t that kinda the point of the story of the tower of Babel?
Part of confirmation is becoming a full member of the church – like you get to have a voice and a vote in how we do things. And you may sometimes need to remind the church to lean into the things that glorify God – when we want to glorify ourselves.
The Holy Spirit is at work when we are comforting the victims and challenging oppressors. When we walk alongside those who feel abandoned, and then we speak out against violence and abuse. The Holy Spirit is at work when we lay aside our own prejudices and cultural baggage to see more clearly those we might label as “others”
The Holy Spirit works through people. And your affirmation of your baptism today means that you accept the fact that the Holy Spirit is gonna work through you too. Saying yes to your baptism, affirming the promises God made to you – and striving to fulfill the promises you will make today – is not something we do alone, but with the church and with the holy spirit every step of the way.
The church promised in your baptism that we would help you learn and grow in faith. Grown-ups don’t always do the best job at helping as they should, and sometimes the Church gets it wrong. That much you need to know. But God made you and claimed you in your baptism, and God doesn’t get it wrong. The same God who made the sun to light the day and the moon by night – made twilight and dawn. The God who made the land and the sea and the part we so love where the two meet and are one, the beach. Each and every part of creation is God’s work – including you.
And because you are part of God’s work, God’s work continues in you, the story of God’s people continues in you. God doesn’t build the church through programs or strategies. God builds the church through you. Through people who use their voice and the gift that the Holy Spirit has given to fulfill God’s mission and vision.
When we cry come holy spirit, we may be comforted, or we may be challenged. We may be empowered to advocate, to comfort, and to walk alongside. When we cry come, Holy Spirit – let us be prepared for tempest and whirlwind, fire and flame. Let us also keep praying and I’ll quote my favorite line from the first hymn today. “Stir up in us love’s restlessness” – for the sake of your people. Amen.