Text: John 14:23-31
25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 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.
St Augustine wrote: I was weeping in the most bitter contrition of my heart, when I heard the voice of children from a neighboring house chanting, "take up and read; take up and read." I could not remember ever having heard the like, so checking the torrent of my tears, I arose, interpreting it to be no other than a command from God to open the book and read the first chapter I should find. Eagerly then I returned to the place where I had laid the volume of the apostle. I seized, opened, and in silence read that section on which my eyes first fell: 13 Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy.14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. Romans 13:13-14
No further would I read, nor did I need to. For instantly at the end of this sentence, it seemed as if a light of serenity infused into my heart and all the darkness of doubt vanished away.
In our Gospel reading for today Jesus says:
23 “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me.
There is a unique use of the singular and plural. Jesus says his words are the Fathers who sent him. There is a connection between Son and Father. Last week it was … 22b that they may be one even as we are one,
Farther and Son are both unique and distinct but we are told also still one in a unity.
This past month we’ve seen some change here at Peace - a new cross and a new organ. When I went to the Berkley church Evola Music sent two drivers for the moving of the organ. Some work could be done with one person, some two and on occasion the third man was needed. I removed the speakers in the back myself and the drivers were able to get the console on the dolly and off the Chancel steps. However when it was found that the organ didn’t fit in the elevator it needed to go down a ramp and a third man was needed, and that helper was me. I held the balance and guided the organ down the ramp – not doing the heavy lifting but guiding and pointing and helping the instrument through the opening and into the truck.
When the speakers needed to come down from the attic chambers where they were housed, Jeremy handed them down to me perched on the ladder and I handed then to Jeff and he lowered them to a dolly and rolled them out of the church.
In the same way when the organ was installed I served as a helper. Handing up and drill so the installer didn’t have to come down the ladder or aiding with the raising of the speakers on to the scaffolding so they could be lowered into the speaker chambers. As a helper, it required me to aid, point, guide, lift and to help those who were doing what they were called here to do.
In answer to the Third Article of the Creed, Martin Luther writes in the Small Catechism:
I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith; even as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith; in which Christian Church He forgives daily and richly all sins to me and all believers, and at the last day will raise up me and all the dead, and will give to me and to all believers in Christ everlasting life. This is most certainly true.
As we celebrate Pentecost today we celebrate the sending of the Holy Spirit. Not that the Holy Spirit was inactive because this is the same Spirit of God who in Genesis 1 was hovering over the face of the waters. 2 [Though] the earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep.
This is also the same Spirit of God that the disciples received when Jesus breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” John 20:22-23
This is the same Spirit of God given in baptism that creates faith in the heart of the one being baptized, pointing to all that Jesus has done in his atoning work and bringing from death to life we who are dead in trespass and sin, making us alive in Christ and giving us the gift of faith to believe.
This is the same Spirit of God that is in you - throughout the life of the believer - that aids, points, guides, comforts, helps, and does battle against the world, the flesh and the devil keeping you and me united to Christ by faith as we daily die and rise in repentance and forgiveness – being sorry for our sin and knowing God’s true peace and comfort that we who are repentant are truly forgiven.
20 years ago I learned a song called “Some may trust in horses” It was taken from Psalm 20 Verses 6 through 8.
6 Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed;
he will answer him from his holy heaven
with the saving might of his right hand.
7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
8 They collapse and fall,
but we rise and stand upright.
Today, and especially as Christians in the United States, we look for solutions to the problems we face, the breakdown of society, and granted we have a voice to speak up, to lobby our elected officials and governmental leaders, and also to vote for the freedoms we enjoy of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness granted to us in this wonderful Constitutional Republic we enjoy called the United States of America.
But, when our hope is placed in those whom we elect, and in those whom we support, we place our trust in horses and chariots and the men and women who hold that power instead of the name of our God – Jesus Christ our Lord.
In our Old Testament reading today the people had a plan:
“Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” Gen. 11:4
The leaders and the people had a plan to build to the heavens to worship self to do things their way … to trust in horses and chariots if you will. But God dispersed them by confusing their language. But, on the Day of Pentecost – as they were in one place – the Lord sent a rushing wind and tongues of fire that rested on the Apostles, and as they spoke those gathered were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language?
And who were those that heard this word and understood?
Well, they were …
9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.”
Those of Babel who proposed to build a tower were confused and dispersed by God in a miraculous way are now united in a common understanding by a similar miraculous way. God’s Spirit now brings understanding and clarity to what God has done for me and you in Christ.
The unity of the message won’t happen by sword, or by vote, or by the philosophical worldview of the leaders. It won’t come about by capitalism, socialism or communism. It won’t come about by taking from the rich and giving to the poor – that was the philosophy of Robin Hood –not our God.
It only comes about through the word of the Gospel and by the working of the Holy Spirit.
In his letter to the Philippians Paul makes clear what we should know:
12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through [Christ] who gives me strength. Phil 4:12-13 NIV
That is the work of the Holy Spirit to aid, to point, to guide, to comfort, and to help in all situations – pointing us to what Jesus has done for you and me. May that be your peace and comfort now and always.
In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.