Bible Text: Acts 2:1-11; John 15:26-16:15 | Preacher: The Rev'd William Klock | Series: The Church Year When the Helper comes Acts 2:1-11 & St. John 15:26-16:15 by William Klock Today is the day when we draw to a close the first half of the Church Year.  If you notice, during the first half of the year the lessons take us through the life of Christ.  During the second half of the year they take us through the life of the believer – giving us a sort of overview of what it means to live the Christian life that comes as a result of the Gospel message we heard during the first half. So today, Whitsunday or Pentecost, we come to the story, as we just heard it read from Acts 2, where the Gospel story itself ends and the story of our life in that Gospel begins.  We started in Advent with the proclamation that the new life was going to come in the person of the Messiah.  At Christmas we heard the message that God had come himself – incarnate as one of us.  He lived like us with the one very important exception: where we are sinners, he was not.  He fulfilled the Law.  During Holy Week we followed him from the Upper Room to the Cross and finally to the Tomb – we followed him as he who knew no sin, became sin for us and bought our redemption.  He took God’s wrath and punishment for sin in our place.  And on Easter we followed his disciples to the tomb and found it empty – empty because God had raised him from the dead.  We received the message that we are raised to new life with him.  Good stuff!  But it didn’t end there.  A week-and-a-half-ago we followed Jesus and his disciples outside the city and heard those men receive their commission from him: Go out and share the good news.  Go out and baptize and make disciples!  And then he rose to heaven. The funny thing through all that is all along Jesus was preaching his message of the kingdom of God – that it wasn’t about a place, but about a person and was something that reigns in our hearts as we are joined to that person (to him).  And yet at every step the disciples kept stopping to ask him, “Yeah, Jesus, that’s great, but when are you going to work your Messiah stuff, throw off this poor itinerant preacher disguise, kick out the Romans and rebuild the great kingdom that we knew when David and Solomon were kings in Israel?”  They didn’t get it.  Even as he was preparing to ascend to heaven and take his throne, they were asking him when he was going to restore the “Kingdom of Israel.” And so last week we read the story of Jesus’ ascension – how he returned to heaven to sit down on his throne and rule his kingdom.  The disciples still didn’t get it.  And yet Jesus had told them before that he couldn’t stay – he had to go so that he could send another.  We read one of those passages in our Gospel this morning: John 15:26-27: But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning. A few verses later, in Chapter 16, Jesus explains it to them in more detail. He says, 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… I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.   Jesus has been providing the teaching, he’s done the work of redemption, but it’s the “Helper,” literally in Greek it’s the “one who is called alongside” is the one who has to come and put it all into action.  Each person of the Trinity has his own part in this whole work of restoration.  It was the Father who sent the Son.  It was the Son who died and rose again accomplishing the actual work of redemption.  And it’s then the Spirit who works in the hearts of men to turn them to Christ and to give them understanding.  Think about that.  Consider the fact that these guys had been following Christ around for three years, not just hearing him preach, but living with him and engaging in personal conversation with him – and yet they still didn’t have a clue as to what he was really all about.  They were still looking for an earthly conquering hero.  As much as they didn’t want their friend to leave, he needed to so that his Spirit – the Helper as St. John calls him – could be sent to complete the work.  Jesus goes on to say: And when [the Helper] comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. The job of the Holy Spirit is to awaken the deadened hearts of men and women to their need for a Saviour.  Again, Jesus has to go so that he can send the Spirit.  Without the work of the Spirit those cold and stony hearts will never be turned to Jesus Christ.  Without the Spirit they will never be softened.  Without the Spirit we’ll never have those “hearts of flesh” God told Ezekiel about. From time to time we need this reminder of what the Spirit’s work is.  Sometimes we overstep our bounds.  Jesus calls us to proclaim the message of the Gospel, but  it’s the Spirit’s work to convict hearts and to make them understand the message we preach.  You and I can never move someone’s heart to believe the Good News, and yet throughout history we’ve seen Christian step over the line.  Our job is evangelism.  The Spirit’s job is to make it fruitful.  You can’t judge the work of an evangelist by the fruit, because the fruit isn’t something he has any control over.  It also means that we need to examine our evangelistic methods.  Are we pressuring, manipulating, and cajoling in order to force fruit ourselves, or are we sticking to our part – sharing the Good News – while relying on the Spirit to bear fruit? But there’s more to the Spirit’s work than convicting of sin, righteousness, and judgement in the world.  Jesus goes on: I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. [We’ve been seeing that all along through the story!] When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.  All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. (John 16:4-5, 7-15) The ministry of the Spirit is first and foremost to take what Jesus has said and apply it to our hearts as he gives us understanding.  This is what the disciples had been missing all along.  This is what the world is missing when it hears the Gospel message, but chalks it up as foolishness.  It’s the result of our fallen and sinful natures.  God created us to understand him, but because we have sinned, our understanding, our reason, our thought processes have all been tainted with sin.  Even with the Spirit dwelling in us, St. Paul says that even then we still see as through a darkened mirror.  Without the Spirit we can’t see at all.  Without the Spirit our hearts are naturally against God.  So the most important working of the Spirit is to open our eyes to God’s truth.  Jesus notes that the Spirit doesn’t speak on his own authority, but that the work of the Spirit is to declare – to make understood – to us the message of Jesus Christ. Notice also Jesus says that the function of the Spirit is to give him glory.  Even though there is equality within the Holy Trinity, there is still a hierarchy within the relationships of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.  Jesus is subordinate to the Father, just as any son is subordinate to his earthly father.  Notice that throughout Jesus’ ministry he tells us that his purpose is to glorify the Father – never once does he bring glory on himself.  In fact, that was what Satan tempted him with in the wilderness.  And so with the Holy Spirit, except that the Spirit’s ministry is to glorify Christ.  The Spirit never glorifies himself.  Notice that the Spirit never attracts attention to himself.  His mission is to point us to Christ and Christ’s mission then is to point us to and reconcile us with the Father. All this is exactly what happened at Pentecost.  When Jesus ascended he commissioned his disciples, telling them that they were to go out to all the world to be his witnesses, first to Jerusalem and to Judea, but them to Samaria and eventually to the whole world.  But, he said, you need to go to Jerusalem and wait.  I need to return to my Father, but when I get there, I will send the Helper – my Spirit – who will indwell you and enable you to do all these things I’ve commissioned you to do. And that’s what they did.  They went back to Jerusalem.  St. Luke tells us that for the next week-and-a-half, they didn’t just sit on their hand waiting for the promised power to come, but spent their time in the temple praising and blessing God. And then Luke tells us that when the day of Pentecost had come – the second of the Jewish harvest festivals when the city of packed with Jews from all over the world – the disciples were all gathered in one place.  Presumably when he says “all,” he’s talking about the whole 120 of them.  Tradition says they were gathered in the same “upper room” where Jesus had instituted his Supper.  He says in Acts 2: And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.  And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and beganto speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.  (Acts 2:2-4) This was what they had been waiting for.  It’s appropriate that the Spirit came as it did.  Jesus had described the working of the Spirit as gentle breeze – and that’s very true – but here on the day when the Spirit was given to the Church – on the very birthday of the Church – he came with the sound not of a little rustling breeze, but with the sound of a storm.  And it’s interesting that St. Luke is specific.  It’s not that the Spirit came as a wind, but specifically that he came with the sound of a mighty wind, which tells us something about the way he works. And as something that looked like tongues of fire rested on their heads, that sound of the mighty wind broke into the sound of those 120 disciples suddenly speaking in other languages as the Spirit directed them.  What happened?  Luke doesn’t give full details.  All he says is that they started speaking in other languages.  The Greek word used refers specifically to known languages.  It was a reversal of what had happened at Babel, when God had confused and scattered the human race by confusing their languages.  Now at Pentecost he brings them back together – not by their own doing, but by the power of his Spirit and through unity in Jesus Christ.  For that reason it seems unlikely that they were all shouting at once.  This wasn’t a chaotic scene.  Luke says that they spoke in these languages as the Spirit gave them utterance – as the Spirit directed. Now remember that for the festival there were Jews in the city from all over the world.  If the disciples were in the Upper Room, they weren’t very far from the Temple.  The men outside heard the sound – presumably the sound that was like a mighty wind – and went to investigate, and when they got there, all these foreigners heard the gathered disciples speaking their own languages.  Jews from Rome heard men speaking in Latin and Jews from Greece heard men speaking in Greek, and they said, “What’s up with this?  These guys are all locals from Galilee – they’re yokels!  I mean, maybe we could expect them to speak Greek and some of them a little Latin, but they’re speaking in all sorts of languages!  Our languages!” Some of those who heard were convinced that those speaking in these other languages were drunk, but the speaking caught the attention of lots of them who listened and heard the disciples telling them of God’s mighty works.  As the crowd gathered the little group of 120 attracted thousands.  We don’t know how many thousands, just that the end result of what the Spirit did on that day was that three thousand came to faith in Christ. The only place in Jerusalem big enough to handle that kind of crowd was the temple environs.  St. Luke doesn’t say how they got there from the Upper Room, which was nearby, but one tradition describes the crowd growing as foreigners were attracted, hearing their own languages spoken, and that groups started forming outside the house, men from each province gathering around the disciples speaking their language, listening to them talk about God’s mighty works as they all made their way up to the temple.  However it happened, the temple has to be where they ended up. And when they got their St. Peter spoke up and began preaching to them.  And this to me is the most remarkable thing that happened on Pentecost – the thing that shows more than anything else that the Spirit was at work and that shows us what the primary ministry of the Spirit is.  Peter suddenly understood! Remember how all along Jesus preached about the kingdom of God, and all that time the disciples kept not getting it.  Even on the Mount of Olives, just before he ascended, the disciples were asking him, “Okay, Jesus, all this stuff you’ve done is really cool – especially the whole rising from the dead thing – but when are you going to do what you came here to do?  When are you going to defeat the Romans?  When are you going to restore the kingdom of Israel?  When are you going to make the Jews great again?”  Even at the very end, the disciples didn’t get it.  And now suddenly, Peter stand up before the crowd – and he gets it.  And he starts preaching to them the Good News – and the coolest part is that where before he was looking back at all those Old Testament prophecies that the Jews thought were about the restoration of an earthly kingdom, now suddenly he understands them.  He starts preaching Christ and the kingdom of God from those same passages he’d never understood before. At the same time the Spirit was at work in the people listening.  St. Luke says they were “cut to the heart.”  They ask Peter what they should do, and Peter said, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”  Luke says that three thousand did just that and as the weeks and months went by more and more did the same – and they did so as the Spirit did what he was sent to do: to turn our hearts toward Christ and to open eyes and ears to the truth of the Gospel. Of course, we can’t forget that the work of the Spirit goes beyond Pentecost.  The purpose of the Spirit is to unite us to Christ.  He’s the one who grafts us into Christ, the vine, so that we can have new life.  And of course St. Paul reminds us of the results of that change.  In Galatians he lists the works of the flesh: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like those.  Those are the behaviours that describe our life before Christ, but as the Spirit indwells us our lives are changed, we receive life from Christ the vine and the Spirit causes us to bear his fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Those are the evidences of the indwelling Spirit.  Doing amazing things and working miracles, casting out demons and prophesying, speaking in tongues or healing, are often signs the Spirit works to validate the message, but even Jesus warns us that those things can be counterfeited and often will be – we saw that just a few weeks ago in the Sermon on the Mount.  The real evidence of the indwelling Holy Spirit is a changed life – a life that bears the fruit of the Spirit – and that’s the greatest miracle of all! If the Spirit chooses to work miracles sometimes to add extra weight to the Gospel message, that’s great, but the consistent message throughout Scripture, and especially the New Testament is that we are called to witness the Gospel by living it, by bearing the fruit of the Spirit in our lives.  Where there is love and joy, peace and patience, kindness and goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control you know you’re dealing with a person full of the Spirit and because of that a person who is grafted into Jesus Christ.  That’s what the world needs to see in us. I want to close with an example from the Old Testament. Samson was a man who had been gift by the Spirit.  In his case it was supernatural strength. The Spirit doesn’t give us gifts today for no reason and he didn’t then – in fact, when he did in those days it had to be for some reallyimportant purpose.  Samson was truly gifted in regard to his strength.  He was also called to exhibit godliness as one of God’s elect, but even more so because of his Nazirite vow.  He was to be especially dedicated to God and to his kingdom.  And yet throughout his life, despite his calling to holiness, he consistently lived in an unholy and ungodly way.  He lived in direct disobedience of not only his vows, but of the Law.  Samson took the gift of strength that God had given him to use for his kingdom and instead used it to take advantage of people and to basically be an all around jerk. Had Samson followed God closely it boggles the mind to think what he could have done to witness the glory of God, but instead he abused God’s gift.  In the end God used him for two things: first, to bring the house down with his strength and kill a whole bunch of Philistines, and second, to be a lesson to us: don’t’ be like Samson.  Don’t squander and abuse the gifts God gives.  I often wonder if some of the Philistines might somehow have had their eyes opened to God had Samson exhibited what the New Testament calls the fruit of the Spirit. Each of us is gifted by the Spirit.  Some of us having amazing gifts like Samson did and some of us have more mundane gifts, but the Spirit gives them to each of us for the purpose of building his kingdom and building up his body – no gift is more important than another.  But those gifts are only used appropriately as we live in the Spirit and bear Christ-like fruit.  The Corinthians were being kind of like Samson.  Some of them had been given amazing gifts by the Spirit, but instead of using them to build up the Body, they were using them to build up themselves, to show others their supposed superiority, and in many ways just being jerks.  And Paul wrote to them, showing them how they were abusing those gifts.  One person’s gift doesn’t make them any more special than someone else.  Just because your gift is a “wow” gift, doesn’t make it better than someone else’s gift that isn’t a “wow” gift.  Far more important than the gifts is the fruit.  And that’s where he goes on to talk about the supremacy of love – the foremost of the Spirit’s fruit.  The fruit, not these other gifts, is the most conclusive manifesting of the indwelling Spirit.  That fruit – that life lived with the indwelling Spirit – needs to be our primary focus because it’s only in combination with living that Spirit-filled life that our other gifts will build the kingdom of God and bless the Body. Please pray with me:  Heavenly Father, you not only sent your Son, Jesus Christ, to purchase our redemption from sin and death, but you sent your Spirit to turn our stony hearts into hearts of flesh, that we might understand and receive your Gospel. Today Father we ask again for your Spirit to do his work, that we might not merely believe your Gospel, but that we might also receive your power to live it, that we might bear the fruit of the Spirit and be living witnesses of your Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray.  Amen.
Bible Text: Acts 2:1-11; John 15:26-16:15 | Preacher: The Rev'd William Klock | Series: The Church Year When the Helper Comes Acts 2:1-11 & St. John 15:26-16:15 by William Klock Today is the day when we draw to a close the first half of the Church Year.  If you notice, during the first half of the year the lessons take us through the life of Christ.  During the second half of the year they take us through the life of the believer—giving us a sort of overview of what it means to live the Christian life that comes as a result of the Gospel message we heard during the first half. So today, Whitsunday or Pentecost, we come to the story, as we just heard it read from Acts 2, where the Gospel story itself ends and the story of our life in that Gospel begins.  We started in Advent with the proclamation that the new life was going to come in the person of the Messiah.  At Christmas we heard the message that God had come himself—incarnate as one of us.  He lived like us with the one very important exception: where we are sinners, he was not.  He fulfilled the Law.  During Holy Week we followed him from the Upper Room to the Cross and finally to the Tomb—we followed him as he who knew no sin, became sin for us and bought our redemption.  He took God’s wrath and punishment for sin in our place.  And on Easter we followed his disciples to the tomb and found it empty—empty because God had raised him from the dead.  We received the message that we are raised to new life with him.  Good stuff!  But it didn’t end there.  A week-and-a-half-ago we followed Jesus and his disciples outside the city and heard those men receive their commission from him: Go out and share the good news.  Go out and baptize and make disciples!  And then he rose to heaven. The funny thing through all that is all along Jesus was preaching his message of the kingdom of God—that it wasn’t about a place, but about a person and was something that reigns in our hearts as we are joined to that person (to him).  And yet at every step the disciples kept stopping to ask him, “Yeah, Jesus, that’s great, but when are you going to work your Messiah stuff, throw off this poor itinerant preacher disguise, kick out the Romans and rebuild the great kingdom that we knew when David and Solomon were kings in Israel?”  They didn’t get it.  Even as he was preparing to ascend to heaven and take his throne, they were asking him when he was going to restore the “Kingdom of Israel.” And so last week we read the story of Jesus’ ascension—how he returned to heaven to sit down on his throne and rule his kingdom.  The disciples still didn’t get it.  And yet Jesus had told them before that he couldn’t stay—he had to go so that he could send another.  We read one of those passages in our Gospel last Sunday: John 15:26-27: But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning. A few verses later, in Chapter 16, Jesus explains it to them in more detail. He says, 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… I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, forif I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.   Jesus has been providing the teaching, he’s done the work of redemption, but it’s the “Helper,” literally in Greek it’s the “one who is called alongside” is the one who has to come and put it all into action.  Each person of the Trinity has his own part in this whole work of restoration.  It was the Father who sent the Son.  It was the Son who died and rose again accomplishing the actual work of redemption.  And it’s then the Spirit who works in the hearts of men to turn them to Christ and to give them understanding.  Think about that.  Consider the fact that these guys had been following Christ around for three years, not just hearing him preach, but living with him and engaging in personal conversation with him—and yet they still didn’t have a clue as to what he was really all about.  They were still looking for an earthly conquering hero.  As much as they didn’t want their friend to leave, he needed to so that his Spirit—the Helper as St. John calls him—could be sent to complete the work.  Jesus goes on to say: And when [the Helper] comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. The job of the Holy Spirit is to awaken the deadened hearts of men and women to their need for a Saviour.  Again, Jesus has to go so that he can send the Spirit.  Without the work of the Spirit those cold and stony hearts will never be turned to Jesus Christ.  Without the Spirit they will never be softened.  Without the Spirit we’ll never have those “hearts of flesh” God told Ezekiel about. From time to time we need this reminder of what the Spirit’s work is.  Sometimes we overstep our bounds.  Jesus calls us to proclaim the message of the Gospel, but it’s the Spirit’s work to convict hearts and to make them understand the message we preach.  I talked about this a couple of months ago when we looked at what it means to have a biblical understanding of conversion and evangelism.  Our job is to share the message.  The Spirit’s job is to change hearts.  We sow the seed.  The Spirit brings the fruit. But there’s more to the Spirit’s work than convicting of sin, righteousness, and judgement in the world.  Jesus goes on: I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. [We’ve been seeing that all along through the story!] When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.  All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. (John 16:4-5, 7-15) The ministry of the Spirit is first and foremost to take what Jesus has said and apply it to our hearts as he gives us understanding.  This is what the disciples had been missing all along.  This is what the world is missing when it hears the Gospel message, but chalks it up as foolishness.  It’s the result of our fallen and sinful natures.  God created us to understand him, but because we have sinned, our understanding, our reason, our thought processes have all been tainted with sin.  Even with the Spirit dwelling in us, St. Paul says that even then we still see as through a darkened mirror.  Without the Spirit we can’t see at all.  Without the Spirit our hearts are naturally against God.  So the most important working of the Spirit is to open our eyes to God’s truth.  Jesus notes that the Spirit doesn’t speak on his own authority, but that the work of the Spirit is to declare—to make understood—to us the message of Jesus Christ. Notice also Jesus says that the function of the Spirit is to give him glory.  Even though there is equality within the Holy Trinity, there is still a hierarchy within the relationships of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.  Jesus is subordinate to the Father, just as any son is subordinate to his earthly father.  Notice that throughout Jesus’ ministry he tells us that his purpose is to glorify the Father—never once does he bring glory on himself.  In fact, that was what Satan tempted him with in the wilderness.  And so with the Holy Spirit, except that the Spirit’s ministry is to glorify Christ.  The Spirit never glorifies himself.  Notice that the Spirit never attracts attention to himself.  His mission is to point us to Christ and Christ’s mission then is to point us to and reconcile us with the Father. All this is exactly what happened at Pentecost.  When Jesus ascended he commissioned his disciples, telling them that they were to go out to all the world to be his witnesses, first to Jerusalem and to Judea, but them to Samaria and eventually to the whole world.  But, he said, you need to go to Jerusalem and wait.  I need to return to my Father, but when I get there, I will send the Helper—my Spirit—who will indwell you and enable you to do all these things I’ve commissioned you to do. And that’s what they did.  They went back to Jerusalem.  St. Luke tells us that for the next week-and-a-half, they didn’t just sit on their hands waiting for the promised power to come, but spent their time in the temple praising and blessing God. And then Luke tells us that when the day of Pentecost had come—the second of the Jewish harvest festivals when the city of packed with Jews from all over the world—the disciples were all gathered in one place.  Presumably when he says “all,” he’s talking about the whole 120 of them.  Tradition says they were gathered in the same “upper room” where Jesus had instituted his Supper.  He says in Acts 2: And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.  And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.  (Acts 2:2-4) This was what they had been waiting for.  It’s appropriate that the Spirit came as it did.  Jesus had described the working of the Spirit as gentle breeze—and that’s very true—but here on the day when the Spirit was given to the Church—on the very birthday of the Church—he came with the sound not of a little rustling breeze, but with the sound of a storm.  And it’s interesting that St. Luke is specific.  It’s not that the Spirit came as a wind, but specifically that he came with the sound of a mighty wind, which tells us something about the way he works. And as something that looked like tongues of fire rested on their heads, that sound of the mighty wind broke into the sound of those 120 disciples suddenly speaking in other languages as the Spirit directed them.  What happened?  Luke doesn’t give full details.  All he says is that they started speaking in other languages.  The Greek word used refers specifically to known languages.  It was a reversal of what had happened at Babel, when God had confused and scattered the human race by confusing their languages.  Now at Pentecost he brings them back together—not by their own doing, but by the power of his Spirit and through unity in Jesus Christ.  For that reason it seems unlikely that they were all shouting at once.  This wasn’t a chaotic scene.  Luke says that they spoke in these languages as the Spirit gave them utterance—as the Spirit directed. Now remember that for the festival there were Jews in the city from all over the world.  If the disciples were in the Upper Room, they weren’t very far from the Temple.  The men outside heard the sound—presumably the sound that was like a mighty wind—and went to investigate, and when they got there, all these foreigners heard the gathered disciples speaking their own languages.  Jews from Rome heard men speaking in Latin and Jews from Greece heard men speaking in Greek, and they said, “What’s up with this?  These guys are all locals from Galilee—they’re yokels!  I mean, maybe we could expect them to speak Greek and some of them a little Latin, but they’re speaking in all sorts of languages!  Our languages!” Some of those who heard were convinced that those speaking in these other languages were drunk, but the speaking caught the attention of lots of them who listened and heard the disciples telling them of God’s mighty works.  As the crowd gathered the little group of 120 attracted thousands.  We don’t know how many thousands, just that the end result of what the Spirit did on that day was that three thousand came to faith in Christ. The only place in Jerusalem big enough to handle that kind of crowd was the temple environs.  St. Luke doesn’t say how they got there from the Upper Room, which was nearby, but one tradition describes the crowd growing as foreigners were attracted, hearing their own languages spoken, and that groups started forming outside the house, men from each province gathering around the disciples speaking their language, listening to them talk about God’s mighty works as they all made their way up to the temple.  However it happened, the temple has to be where they ended up. And when they got there St. Peter spoke up and began preaching to them.  And this to me is the most remarkable thing that happened on Pentecost—the thing that shows more than anything else that the Spirit was at work and that shows us what the primary ministry of the Spirit is.  Peter suddenly understood! Remember how all along Jesus preached about the kingdom of God, and all that time the disciples kept not getting it.  Even on the Mount of Olives, just before he ascended, the disciples were asking him, “Okay, Jesus, all this stuff you’ve done is really cool—especially the whole rising from the dead thing—but when are you going to do what you came here to do?  When are you going to defeat the Romans?  When are you going to restore the kingdom of Israel?  When are you going to make the Jews great again?”  Even at the very end, the disciples didn’t get it.  And now suddenly, Peter stands up before the crowd—and he gets it.  And he starts preaching to them the Good News—and the coolest part is that where before he was looking back at all those Old Testament prophecies that the Jews thought were about the restoration of an earthly kingdom, now suddenly he understands them.  He starts preaching Christ and the kingdom of God from those same passages he’d never understood before. At the same time the Spirit was at work in the people listening.  St. Luke says they were “cut to the heart.”  They ask Peter what they should do, and Peter said, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”  Luke says that three thousand did just that and as the weeks and months went by more and more did the same—and they did so as the Spirit did what he was sent to do: to turn our hearts toward Christ and to open eyes and ears to the truth of the Gospel. Of course, we can’t forget that the work of the Spirit goes beyond Pentecost.  The purpose of the Spirit is to unite us to Christ.  He’s the one who grafts us into Christ, the vine, so that we can have new life.  And of course St. Paul reminds us of the results of that change.  In Galatians he lists the works of the flesh: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like those.  Those are the behaviours that describe our life before Christ, but as the Spirit indwells us our lives are changed, we receive life from Christ the vine and the Spirit causes us to bear his fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Those are the evidences of the indwelling Spirit.  Doing amazing things and working miracles, casting out demons and prophesying, speaking in tongues or healing, are often signs the Spirit works to validate the message, but even Jesus warns us that those things can be counterfeited and often will be.  We have all sorts of guys on TV that are poster children for this—guys who claim to be faith healers, working miracles, and yet their personal lives are dominated by greed, and dishonesty, and lust and adultery.  The real evidence of the indwelling Holy Spirit is a changed life—a life that bears the fruit of the Spirit and as I talked about last Sunday: that is every growing in holiness—and that’s the greatest miracle of all! If the Spirit chooses to work miracles sometimes to add extra weight to the Gospel message, that’s great, but the consistent message throughout Scripture, and especially the New Testament is that we are called to witness the Gospel by living it, by bearing the fruit of the Spirit in our lives.  Where there is love and joy, peace and patience, kindness and goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control you know you’re dealing with a person full of the Spirit and because of that a person who is grafted into Jesus Christ.  That’s what the world needs to see in us. I want to close with an example from the Old Testament. Samson was a man who had been gifted by the Spirit.  In his case it was supernatural strength. The Spirit doesn’t give us gifts today for no reason and he didn’t then—in fact, when he did in those days it had to be for some really important purpose.  Samson was truly gifted in regard to his strength.  He was also called to exhibit godliness as one of God’s elect, but even more so because of his Nazirite vow.  He was to be especially dedicated to God and to his kingdom.  And yet throughout his life, despite his calling to holiness, he consistently lived in an unholy and ungodly way.  He lived in direct disobedience of not only his vows, but of the Law.  Samson took the gift of strength that God had given him to use for his kingdom and instead used it to take advantage of people and to basically be an all around jerk. Had Samson followed God closely it boggles the mind to think what he could have done to witness the glory of God, but instead he abused God’s gift.  In the end God used him for two things: first, to bring the house down with his strength and kill a whole bunch of Philistines, and second, to be a lesson to us: don’t be like Samson.  Don’t squander and abuse the gifts God gives.  I often wonder if some of the Philistines might somehow have had their eyes opened to God had Samson exhibited what the New Testament calls the fruit of the Spirit. Each of us is gifted by the Spirit.  Some of us having amazing gifts like Samson did and some of us have more mundane gifts, but the Spirit gives them to each of us for the purpose of building his kingdom and building up his body—no gift is more important than another.  But those gifts are only used appropriately as we live in the Spirit and bear Christ-like fruit.  The Corinthians were being kind of like Samson.  Some of them had been given amazing gifts by the Spirit, but instead of using them to build up the Body, they were using them to build up themselves, to show others their supposed superiority, and in many ways just being jerks.  And Paul wrote to them, showing them how they were abusing those gifts.  One person’s gift doesn’t make them any more special than someone else.  Just because your gift is a “wow” gift, doesn’t make it better than someone else’s gift that isn’t a “wow” gift.  Far more important than the gifts is the fruit.  And that’s where Paul goes on to talk about the supremacy of love—the foremost of the Spirit’s fruit.  The fruit, not these other gifts, is the most conclusive manifesting of the indwelling Spirit.  That fruit—that life lived with the indwelling Spirit—needs to be our primary focus because it’s only in combination with living that Spirit-filled life that our other gifts will build the kingdom of God and bless the Body. Please pray with me:  Heavenly Father, you not only sent your Son, Jesus Christ, to purchase our redemption from sin and death, but you sent your Spirit to turn our stony hearts into hearts of flesh, that we might understand and receive your Gospel. Today Father we ask again for your Spirit to do his work, that we might not merely believe your Gospel, but that we might also receive your power to live it, that we might bear the fruit of the Spirit and be living witnesses of your Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray.  Amen.
Bible Text: Acts 2:1-11; John 14:15-31 | Preacher: The Rev'd William Klock | Series: The Church Year Life in the Spirit Acts 2:1-11 & St. John 14:15-31 by William Klock Think back over the Church year so far.  We started in Advent with the proclamation that new life was going to come in the person of the Messiah.  At Christmas we heard the message that God had come himself—incarnate as one of us.  He lived like us with the one very important exception: where we are sinners, he was not.  He fulfilled the Law.  During Holy Week we followed him from the Upper Room to the Cross and finally to the Tomb—we followed him as he who knew no sin, became sin for us and bought our redemption.  He took God’s wrath and punishment for sin in our place.  And on Easter we followed his disciples to the tomb and found it empty—empty because God had raised him from the dead.  We received the message that we are raised to new life with him.  Then, a week-and-a-half-ago, we followed Jesus and his disciples outside the city and heard those men receive their commission from him: Go out and share the good news.  Go out and baptize and make disciples!  And then he rose to heaven. It’s interesting that all through all these events and as Jesus was preaching his message of the kingdom of God—that it wasn’t about a place, but about a person and was something that reigns in our hearts as we are joined to that person (to him)—through all these things the disciples never really “got it”.  At every step they stop him to ask, “Yeah, Jesus, that’s great, but when are you going to work your Messiah stuff, throw off this poor itinerant preacher disguise, kick out the Romans and rebuild the great kingdom that we knew when David and Solomon were kings in Israel?”  They didn’t get it.  Even as he was preparing to ascend to heaven and take his throne, they were asking him when he was going to restore the “Kingdom of Israel.” Even as Jesus was getting ready to ascend to heaven, to sit down on his throne and rule his kingdom, the disciples still didn’t get it. Jesus had even told them that he couldn’t stay—he had to go so that he could send another.  We read one of those passages in our Gospel this morning: John 15:26-27: But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning. A few verses later, in Chapter 16, Jesus explains it to them in more detail. He says, 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… I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.   Jesus has been providing the teaching, he’s done the work of redemption, but it’s the “Helper,” literally in Greek it’s the “one who is called alongside” is the one who has to come and put it all into action.  Each person of the Trinity has his own part in this whole work of restoration.  It was the Father who sent the Son.  It was the Son who died and rose again accomplishing the actual work of redemption.  And it’s then the Spirit who works in the hearts of men to turn them to Christ, to give them understanding, and finally to knit them together into the Body of Christ.  Think about that.  Consider the fact that these guys had been following Christ around for three years, not just hearing him preach, but living with him and engaging in personal conversation with him—and yet they still didn’t understand what he was really all about.  They were still looking for an earthly conquering hero.  As much as they didn’t want their friend to leave, he needed to so that his Spirit—the one St. John calls the “Helper”—could be sent to complete the work.  Jesus goes on to say: And when [the Helper] comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. The job of the Holy Spirit is to awaken the deadened hearts of men and women to their need for a Saviour and to bring Jesus’ kingdom into being.  Again, Jesus had to go back to his Father so that he could then send the Spirit.  In the Old Testament the prophet Ezekiel wrote about the coming day when hearts of stone would be turned into hearts of flesh.  Brothers and sisters, Jesus makes that transformation possible, but without the work of the Holy Spirit, our cold and stony hearts will never be turned to Jesus Christ.  Without the Spirit they will never be softened.  Without the Spirit we’ll never have those “hearts of flesh”. From time to time we need this reminder of what the Spirit’s work is.  Sometimes we overstep our bounds.  Jesus calls us to proclaim the message of the Gospel, but it’s the Spirit’s work to convict hearts and to make them understand the message we preach.  Our job is to share the message.  The Spirit’s job is to change hearts.  We sow the seed.  The Spirit brings the fruit. But there’s more to the Spirit’s work than convicting people of sin, righteousness, and judgement.  Jesus goes on: 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 authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.(John 16:4-5, 7-15) The ministry of the Spirit is first and foremost to take what Jesus has said and apply it to our hearts as he gives us understanding.  This is what the disciples had been missing all along.  This is what the world is missing when it hears the Gospel message, but chalks it up as foolishness.  It’s the result of our fallen and sinful natures.  God created us to understand him, but because we have sinned, our understanding, our reason, our thought processes have all been tainted with sin.  Even with the Spirit dwelling in us, St. Paul says that we still see as through a darkened mirror.  Without the Spirit we can’t see at all.  Without the Spirit our hearts are naturally against God.  So the most important working of the Spirit is to open our eyes to God’s truth.  Jesus notes that the Spirit doesn’t speak on his own authority, but that the work of the Spirit is to declare—to make understood—to us the message of Jesus Christ. Notice also Jesus says that the function of the Spirit is to give him glory.  Even though there is equality within the Holy Trinity, there is still a hierarchy within the relationships of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.  Jesus is subordinate to the Father, just as any son is subordinate to his earthly father.  Notice that throughout Jesus’ ministry he tells us that his purpose is to glorify the Father—never once does he seek his own glory.  In fact, that was what Satan tempted him to do in the wilderness.  And so with the Holy Spirit, except that the Spirit’s ministry is to glorify Christ.  The Spirit never glorifies himself.  Notice that the Spirit never attracts attention to himself.  His mission is to point us to Christ and Christ’s mission then is to point us to and reconcile us with the Father. All this is exactly what happened at Pentecost.  When Jesus ascended he commissioned his disciples, telling them that they were to go out to all the world to be his witnesses, first to Jerusalem and to Judea, then to Samaria, and eventually to the whole world.  But, he said, you need to go to Jerusalem and wait.  I need to return to my Father, but when I get there, I will send the Helper—my Spirit—who will indwell you and enable you to do all these things I’ve commissioned you to do. And that’s what they did.  They went back to Jerusalem.  St. Luke tells us that for the next week-and-a-half, they didn’t just sit on their hands waiting for the promised power to come, but spent their time in the temple praising and blessing God. And then Luke tells us that when the day of Pentecost had come—the second of the Jewish harvest festivals when the city was packed with Jews from all over the world—the disciples were all gathered in one place.  Presumably when he says “all,” he’s talking about the whole 120 of them.  Tradition says they were gathered in the same “upper room” where Jesus had instituted his Supper.  He says in Acts 2: And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.  And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.  (Acts 2:2-4) This was what they had been waiting for.  It’s appropriate that the Spirit came as he did.  Jesus had described the working of the Spirit as a gentle breeze—and that’s very true—but here on the day when the Spirit was given to the Church—on the very birthday of the Church—he came with the sound not of a little rustling breeze, but with the sound of a storm. And as something that looked like tongues of fire rested on their heads, that sound of the mighty wind broke into the sound of those 120 disciples suddenly speaking in other languages as the Spirit directed them.  What happened?  Luke doesn’t give full details.  All he says is that they started speaking in other languages.  The Greek word used refers specifically to known languages.  It was a reversal of what had happened at Babel, when God had confused and scattered the human race by confusing their languages.  Now at Pentecost he brings them back together—not by their own doing, but by the power of his Spirit and through unity in Jesus Christ.  For that reason it seems unlikely that they were all shouting at once.  This wasn’t a chaotic scene.  Luke says that they spoke in these languages as the Spirit gave them utterance—as the Spirit directed. Now remember that for the festival there were Jews in the city from all over the world.  If the disciples were in the Upper Room, they weren’t very far from the Temple.  The men outside heard the sound and went to investigate.  When they got there, all these foreigners heard the gathered disciples speaking their own languages.  Jews from Rome heard men speaking in Latin and Jews from Greece heard men speaking in Greek, and they said, “What’s up with this?  These guys are all uneducated rednecks from Galilee!  Sure, maybe a few of them speak a little Greek and one or two a little Latin, but these men are speaking in all sorts of languages!  Our languages!” Some of those who heard were convinced that those speaking in these other languages were drunk, but the speaking caught the attention of lots of them who listened and heard the disciples telling them of God’s mighty works.  As the crowd gathered the little group of 120 attracted thousands.  We don’t know how many thousands, just that the end result of what the Spirit did on that day was that three thousand came to faith in Christ. The only place in Jerusalem big enough to handle that kind of crowd was the temple environs.  St. Luke doesn’t say how they got there from the Upper Room, which was nearby, but one tradition describes the crowd growing as foreigners were attracted, hearing their own languages spoken, and that groups started forming outside the house, men from each province gathering around the disciples speaking their language, listening to them talk about God’s mighty works as they all made their way up to the temple.  However it happened, the temple has to be where they ended up. And when they got there St. Peter spoke up and began preaching to them.  And this to me is the most remarkable thing that happened on Pentecost—the thing that shows more than anything else that the Spirit was at work and that shows us what the first ministry of the Spirit is.  Peter suddenly understood! Remember how all along Jesus preached about the kingdom of God, and all that time the disciples kept not getting it.  Even on the Mount of Olives, just before he ascended, the disciples were asking him, “Okay, Jesus, all this stuff you’ve done is great—especially that whole rising from the dead thing—but when are you going to do what you came here to do?  When are you going to defeat the Romans?  When are you going to restore the kingdom of Israel?  When are you going to make the Jews great again?”  Even at the very end, the disciples didn’t get it.  And now suddenly, Peter stands up before the crowd—and he gets it.  And he starts preaching to them the Good News—and the most wonderful part is that where before he was looking back at all those Old Testament prophecies that the Jews thought were about the restoration of an earthly kingdom, now suddenly he understands them.  He starts preaching Christ and the kingdom of God from those same passages he’d never understood before. At the same time the Spirit was at work in the people listening.  St. Luke says they were “cut to the heart.”  They ask Peter what they should do, and Peter said, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”  Luke says that three thousand did just that and as the weeks and months went by more and more did the same—and they did so as the Spirit did what he was sent to do: to turn hearts toward Christ and to open eyes and ears to the truth of the Gospel. Of course, we can’t forget that the work of the Spirit goes beyond Pentecost.  The purpose of the Spirit is to unite us to Christ.  He’s the one who grafts us into Christ, the vine, so that we can have new life.  And of course St. Paul reminds us of the results of that change.  In Galatians he lists the works of the flesh: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like those.  Those are the behaviours that describe our life before Christ, but as the Spirit indwells us our lives are changed, we receive life from Christ the vine and the Spirit causes us to bear his fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Those are the evidences of the indwelling Spirit.  Doing amazing things and working miracles, casting out demons and prophesying, speaking in tongues or healing, can be signs the Spirit works to validate the message, but those aren’t what we look for as proof of the Spirit’s presence.  Jesus even warns us that those things can be counterfeited and often will be.  We have all sorts of guys on TV that are poster children for this—guys who claim to be faith healers, working miracles, and yet their gospel is a false one and their personal lives are dominated by greed, and dishonesty, lust and adultery.  The real evidence of the indwelling Holy Spirit is a changed life—a life that bears the fruit of the Spirit and that is growing in holiness—and that’s the greatest miracle of all! If the Spirit chooses to work miracles sometimes to add extra weight to the Gospel message, that’s great, but the consistent message throughout Scripture, and especially the New Testament is that we are called to witness the Gospel by living it, by bearing the fruit of the Spirit in our lives.  Where there is love and joy, peace and patience, kindness and goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control you know you’re dealing with a person full of the Spirit, and because of that, a person who is grafted into Jesus Christ.  That’s what the world needs to see in us. I want to close with an example from the Old Testament. Samson was a man who had been gifted by the Spirit.  In his case it was supernatural strength. The Spirit doesn’t give us gifts today for no reason and he didn’t then—in fact, when he did in those days it had to be for some really important purpose.  Samson was truly gifted in regard to his strength.  He was also called to exhibit godliness as one of God’s elect, but even more so because of his Nazirite vow.  He was to be especially dedicated to God and to his kingdom.  And yet throughout his life, despite his calling to holiness, he consistently lived in an unholy and ungodly way.  He lived in direct disobedience of not only his vows, but of the Law.  Samson took the gift of strength that God had given him to use for his kingdom and instead used it to take advantage of people—basically to be a jerk. Had Samson followed God closely it boggles the mind to think what he could have done to witness the glory of God, but instead he abused God’s gift.  In the end God used him for two things: first, to bring the house down with his strength and kill a whole bunch of Philistines, and second, to be a lesson to us: don’t be like Samson.  Don’t squander and abuse the gifts God gives.  I often wonder if some of the Philistines might somehow have had their eyes opened to God had Samson exhibited what the New Testament calls the fruit of the Spirit. Brothers and sisters, each of us is gifted by the Spirit too.  As St. Paul reminded the Corinthians, these gifts aren’t for us personally; they’re for the building up of the Church, the Body of Christ.  If we are to be faithful to Jesus, who has given us his Spirit, we need to be faithful in using our gifts.  We need to remember that even though we work in different parts of the kingdom and in different ways, we’re all called to be faithful workers and faithful builders of God’s kingdom.  But we also need to remember that as we use the gifts the Spirit has given us, we need to be living the Spirit’s fruit too.  St. Paul reminded the Corinthians that greater than any spiritual gift is love, and close behind love are the other fruits of the Spirit: joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Love is what moves us to share the Good News of Jesus Christ and of his death and resurrection with people who are spiritually dying.  And it’s as we live out the fruit of the Spirit that we shine the light of Christ into the world’s darkness.
Bible Text: Acts 2:1-11; John 14:15-31 | Preacher: The Rev'd William Klock | Series: The Church Year Life in the Spirit Acts 2:1-11 & St. John 14:15-31 We began the Church Year back in November, recalling the words of comfort that God spoke to his people through the prophets.  And we began the Church Year singing those familiar words, “O come, O come, Emmanuel and ransom captive Israel.”  The season of Advent cries out with expectation and hope.  We have a problem.  God calls, but we can’t hear.  God speaks, and we don’t understand.  Since the days of Abraham, he tells us: “Walk before me and be blameless”, but no matter how hard we try, we wander from him and we stumble into sin.  God created us for something better.  He created us to have and to grow into perfect fellowship with him, but along the way we rebelled, we gave him up in favour of sin and our own wills.  And so we hear God’s promise of redemption and we cry out, “O come, O come Emanuel”.  Sin has captured us.  Lord, ransom us—come and set us free! And so over the course of the last half-year we’ve celebrated the answer to our prayer.  At Christmas Emanuel came.  At Christmas we celebrated the coming of the Messiah.  At Epiphany we celebrated his manifestation to the Gentiles; he came not only to ransom captive Israel, but to ransom all of captive humanity.  During Holy Week we sat with him in the upper room as he turned that last Passover meal, that last Old Testament sacrament, into the first sacrament of his New Covenant.  We prayed with him in Gethsemane and followed as the soldiers took him away to be tried and crucified.  We were there on Good Friday as he gave his life for ours and we celebrated on Easter Sunday, recalling his resurrection.  He conquered sin and death and in his resurrection he has given us the promise of our own future resurrection.  And then on Ascension we listened as he gave the promise of his Spirit—the Helper who would come alongside us.  And yet we read too Jesus’ words of promise to his disciples: “I’m not through yet.  I’m going to my Father so that I can send you the Holy Spirit.  Go back to Jerusalem; wait and pray there until he comes.  He will empower you to do everything I’ve told you.”  Pentecost is the final scene in the act.  Sometimes we forget about it.  We focus on the events of Holy Week and of Easter—we focus on the earthly ministry of Jesus—and we forget about Ascension and Pentecost.  We forget Jesus’ heavenly ministry.  Our great high priest has entered the Father’s presence where he presents himself as a sacrifice for our sins.  And Jesus, our brother, sits too at his Father’s right hand.  He came and established his kingdom, then he ascended to heaven where he rules over it.  And to give birth to his kingdom and to empower it, he sent the Spirit.  Without the heavenly session of Jesus and without the sending of the Holy Spirit the Gospel isn’t complete.  Without them Jesus did everything necessary to restore us to God, but none of it would have been put into action, none of it would have been applies to us. Again, knowing our lost state, we sang: “O come, O come Emanuel.”  Emanuel means “God with us”.  Christmas is the celebration of the Incarnation—of the eternal Word of God who took our human nature on himself as he was born of Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Because we were lost to sin, God spoke his Word, but we could no longer hear it; we could no longer understand it.  So the Word himself came.  He spoke again, but this time he spoke as one of us.  And he offered himself as a sacrifice for our sins.  He paved the way for our restoration to God’s fellowship.  And yet his disciples, even after spending three years hearing him teach and even after his resurrection from the dead, didn’t understand.  “God with us” was important, but we still needed more.  The highway was paved, but the disciples still weren’t walking it.  That’s why we need the Holy Spirit.  If Jesus, the Incarnate Word, is “God with us”, the Holy Spirit is “God in us” turning our hearts to God, renovating our souls, unstopping our ears, and giving us understanding so that we can know and follow the Word.  Jesus paved the highway that leads us back to the Father, but it’s the Holy Spirit who sets our feet on that highway and sets us walking toward the Father. In our Gospel Jesus promised: I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. And a few verses later, in verse 25 and 26, he says: These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Through Jesus, the Father will send “the Helper”—literally, the “one who comes alongside”—who is the Holy Spirit.  And Jesus says that it’s the Spirit who will teach us.  Jesus spent three years teaching.  It was also Jesus who rescued us from sin by becoming human, by offering himself as a sacrifice at the cross, and in destroying death by his resurrection.  But it’s the Spirit who will make sense of Jesus’ ministry for us.  Think of the disciples’ reaction to Jesus.  Throughout his three years of ministry they heard what he said, but they didn’t understand.  Even at the end, in the upper room as Jesus showed that he had come to be the servant of his own creation, the disciples were fighting over who was the greatest.  Despite Jesus having told them that he would rise from the grave in three days, the disciples hid in fear during those three days.  When they found the empty tomb their first thought was that someone had stolen his body.  Even when Thomas saw him, he doubted that it was truly Jesus.  The disciples saw everything Jesus did; they heard everything he taught; but they didn’t understand.  They didn’t understand, that is, until Pentecost. We read in our Epistle how they were gathered in that same upper room, waiting and praying, when the Holy Spirit came as Jesus had promised.  He came with the sound of a rushing wind and as tongues of fire descending on the disciples gathered there.  And it was then, as the Spirit “came alongside” that everything “clicked” for them.  We see it in Peter.  Of all the disciples, Peter seems to have been the one who was most lost when it came to all these things.  He truly loved Jesus; he truly wanted to follow Jesus.  He was the one who stepped out of the boat and, in faith, walked on water.  But he was also the one who, just after Jesus had preached about his own servanthood, drew his sword and cut off the ear of one of the chief priest’s soldiers.  But as the Spirit descended on Peter, suddenly it all made sense; it “clicked”.  And Peter preached his first sermon, proclaiming the Gospel message.  Suddenly he understood all the Old Testament prophecies that pointed to Jesus and suddenly he understood what Jesus had accomplished in becoming one of us and in his death and resurrection.  Thousands heard him preach that message and thousands received it, taking hold of Jesus by faith through baptism.  Peter shows us what the Spirit does: “He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” Before the Spirit came, God called, but we couldn’t hear.  Before the Spirit came, God spoke, but we didn’t understand.  Before the Spirit came, God said: “Walk before me and be blameless”, but that command was only a source of frustration for us.  But now that the Spirit has come, God calls and the Spirit opens our ears; God speaks, and the Spirit gives us understanding; God commands: “Walk before me and be blameless” and the Holy Spirit sanctifies our hearts and gives us a desire both to be in fellowship with God and to walk before him in righteousness.  What you and I rejected in our sinful rebellion, the Holy Spirit restores.  Through sin we defaced the image and likeness of God that we were created with, but through the Holy Spirit God cleans and restores and makes whole what we defaced. John the Baptist pointed to all this as he heralded Jesus.  He called the people to repentance in preparation for Jesus.  He offered the people a symbolic washing with water, but the whole time John was telling the people that Jesus had something better to offer.  He said: I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (Matthew 3:11) The people needed more than repentance.  That was only the first step.  They needed the baptism that Jesus offers: a baptism not of repentance only, but a baptism of forgiveness and a baptism with the Holy Spirit.  In that we see the two-fold significance of Baptism.  Throughout the Old Testament baptism was used to purify things (and people) that were unclean or to set them aside for holy use.  It’s no wonder that in establishing Baptism as the entrance to the New Covenant, Jesus would use this symbol of washing.  He died in our place and as we receive his offer of new life in faith through Baptism, he washes away our sin.  But as we see today, there’s more to the Gospel than forgiveness; there’s restoration, there’s making whole, there’s new life.  That happens as the Holy Spirit is poured into us.  Baptism washes, but it also fills.  When the men gathered on Pentecost heard Peter’s sermon they cried out, “What shall we do?”  And Peter told them: Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  (Acts 2:38) We see this dramatically played out in Ephesus.  When Paul first arrived there he noticed something was missing.  That something was the Holy Spirit.  The people there had part of the message, but not the whole message.  They had heard John’s message of repentance and had received his baptism, but they’d never heard of the Holy Spirit.  They were still living in expectation of the Messiah.  They had repentance, but they were missing the Gospel.  And so Paul preached Jesus Christ to them, they believed, in faith they were baptised into Jesus, and as a result they were filled with the Holy Spirit.  Believe and be baptised for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. And St. Paul tells us that it’s that Spirit that turns our hearts.  The Corinthians were looking to physical signs as evidence of the Holy Spirit.  Paul warned them not to do that.  Before he talks about the gifts that the Spirit gives for ministry, he reminds them: “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except in the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3).  Jesus is the Lord of creation.  In our rebellion we rejected his lordship.  The first work of the Holy Spirit in us is to change our rebellious hearts.  The first and greatest sign of the Spirit’s work in a life is when that man or woman sets aside human pride and acknowledges the lordship of Jesus. Paul also describes the transformation that the Holy Spirit brings to our lives.  In Galatians 5 he writes: But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  (Galatians 5:16, 19-24) The works of the flesh that Paul describes are all the result of our rebellion, but when the Spirit is poured into us, he turns our hearts back to God.  He’s the conduit of God’s grace.  The Spirit makes us alive to God’s call to walk before him and to be blameless; he gives us a desire for holiness and he gives us the ability to be holy. Think of Jesus’ description of himself as the living vine.  He says: Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.  I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:4-5) Apart from Jesus, you and I dead wood.  It’s only as we’re grafted into the living vine—into Jesus—that his life courses through us.  His life gives us life and as he brings us back to life he makes us fruitful—we start bearing the same kind of fruit that he bears.  But ultimately this is the Holy Spirit’s work.  He’s the one who grafts us into Jesus.  Because he and Jesus are one, as we partake of the life of the Spirit, we partake of the life of Jesus.  And because the Holy Spirit is the one who gives us the gift of faith, it’s only through the faith the Spirit gives that we partake of Jesus as we receive the bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper.  The Holy Spirit indwells us and as he indwells us he unites us to Jesus—to the eternal Word of God who gives life. But the Holy Spirit’s ministry doesn’t end with us individuals.  Earlier I had the children gathered at the font.  I poured the water over their hands to illustrate the washing effect of Baptism and then I had them all cup their hands as I poured the water into them to illustrate the Holy Spirit’s filling effect.  But remember what they did then.  With those wet hands they all took hold of each other as a reminder that in our Baptism the Holy Spirit unites us to each other and creates the Church, the Body of Christ.  There’s only one Jesus—only one vine—and only one Spirit, who units us to that vine.  The Holy Spirit takes complete strangers and makes us brothers and sisters in Jesus.  As St. Paul tells us in Ephesians: There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.  (Ephesians 4:4-6) One Lord, one Spirit, one Baptism, and one Body.  And that oneness underscores the work that the Spirit does in us to restore what we gave up in our rebellion.  Think back to the story in Genesis of the tower of Babel.  That story describes not only our rebellion against God, but it describes humanity’s complete loss of the knowledge of God.  It describes humanity sinking into paganism and it ended with God confusing the languages of the people and scattering them.  Because of sin and a loss of the knowledge of God, what had been one was fractured into many.  But at Pentecost what our sin fractured, the Spirit brought back together.  The babble of Babel was undone as the Spirit broke out in the gift of tongues and people from all over the world understood the Gospel and the mighty works of God preached in their own languages.  The Spirit called to them and brought them together, uniting them: one Lord, one Spirit, one Baptism, one Body. As we gather together each week, let us remember the work that the Spirit has done in us.  As we pass through the doors of the church and as we pass by the baptismal font, remember that we have each been given the gift of the Holy Spirit.  God calls, and because the Holy Spirit indwells us we hear him.  God speaks, and because the Holy Spirit indwells us we understand.  God calls us to walk before him and to be blameless, and because the Holy Spirit indwells us we now walk before him in righteousness.  But never forget that we do all this together, that we do all this as the Body of Christ.  On the doors of the Church of the Holy Spirit in Ravenna, Italy are these words of St. Paul: “Extinguish not the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19).  Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby you are sealed unto the day of redemption.  Let all bitterness and anger, and indignation and clamour, and blasphemy be put away from you, along with all malice (Ephesians 4:30ff).  Be you filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18).” Brothers and sisters, those are good words to remember as we gather.  The Holy Spirit has made us a temple for himself.  Let us live our lives in that knowledge.  Let us welcome the grace he gives.  Let us welcome him as the guest of our souls and as the God who makes us one in Christ Jesus.  And let us not simply welcome him, each into his or her own life, but let us welcome the gift of the Spirit in the lives of our brothers and sisters.  Let us share his gifts as we work together to build his Church and his kingdom and let us manifest and live his fruit.  And of that Spiritual fruit, let us remember that love is the greatest.  The Spirit pours it into us.  Let is overflow from us that the world might see it.  On the day of Pentecost the disciples were given a manifestation of the gift of tongues that the world might see Jesus at work.  Today we have a similar manifestation in the gift of love.  Father Parsch gives this exhortation: “We…have a gift of tongues which all men can understand.  It is the gift of love infused into us by the Holy Spirit.  Love unites, love is a common language, by means of love we can speak to all nations.” Let us pray: Gracious Father, we give you thanks and praise for sending your Son, Jesus Christ, to be “God with us” and for sending your Spirit to be “God in us”, applying the redeeming work of Jesus in our lives.  By your Holy Spirit, fill us with your grace and make us faithful to build up your body with the gifts he gives and to bear the fruit of love in our lives that the world might see you as it looks at us.  We ask this through Jesus Christ who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, now and forever.  Amen. Pius Parsch, Sermons on the Liturgy, trans. Philip T. Weller (Milwaukee: Bruce, 1953), p. 195. Pius Parsch, The Church’s Year of Grace (Collegeville, Minn.: The Liturgical Press, 1954), vol. 3, p. 215.