Drunk with New Wine Cindi Knox
Year C, Pentecost
Today is the day we remember the Holy Spirit being poured out on many people - not just the twelve.
Some of you may remember how, a few weeks ago, I talked about Jesus breathing the Holy Spirit into the apostles. But now the Spirit is spreading.
If you've been to church on Pentecost before, you may have heard the story from Acts chapter 2. We didn't read it today, but I'm going to put it into today's context.
We have been celebrating the resurrection for fifty days, and now the day of Pentecost has come, and we are all together in one place.
We may not have a sound from heaven like a mighty wind.
We may not have divided tongues, as of fire, among us.
Yet all of us are filled with the Holy Spirit, and are able to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gives us ability.
Some of us can speak another language or two, but I don't think we're all multilingual.
Well, maybe we are.
Now there were people of every type under heaven living in Downers Grove.
And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in ways they could understand.
Amazed and astonished, they asked, "Are not all these who are speaking Christians from Downers Grove?
And how is it that we hear, each of us, in ways that make sense to us?
Youth, adults, men and women, people with developmental differences and people with physical challenges,
Conservative and liberal, orthodox and cutting-edge theology, and visitors from other churches, both believers and seekers,
Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender - in ways that have meaning to us, we hear them speaking about God's deeds of power."
All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "What does this mean?"
But others sneered and said, "They're drunk."
But tell those who doubt our sanity and sobriety:
let this be known to you, and listen to what I say.
Indeed, we are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only 10:30 in the morning.
No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:
In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young people shall see visions, and your elders shall dream dreams.
The story of Pentecost isn't just about what happened in Jerusalem two thousand years ago: it's about what is happening right here, right now, in this very church!
Right now, some of us are feeling fired up about meeting youth where they are. Some of us are excited about meeting homeless people where they are. Some of us are thrilled at the prospect of welcoming newcomers to St. Paul's. Some of us are deeply moved to care for members who aren't able to make it to worship with us in the morning. Some of us are greatly interested in reaching out to people who feel they were burned by the church. Some of us love the idea of living out the spirit of Open and Affirming. Some of us are eagerly anticipating opportunities to invite in people of different cultural backgrounds.
Yes, the Holy Spirit is alive at St. Paul's, and we are having a Pentecost moment every day, whether we recognize it or not. Every day one of us is inspired to do something. And to be "inspired" means to have the spirit in us.
In the fourteenth century, Catherine Benincasa of Siena Italy said "If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world on fire!"
But what will people think?
Will they think we're weird? Crazy? Drunk?
But as we heard in the reading today:
All who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.
For we did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear,
but we have received a spirit of adoption.
When we cry, "Abba! Father!" it is that very Spirit bearing witness
with our spirit that we are children of God,
and if children, then heirs,
heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ
if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.
There's that suffer word. I don't know about you, but it makes me want to pull back a little.
I don't want to suffer.
But we just read about not falling back into fear.
What if people think we're a little goofy?
What if people whisper things like "that's the church that those kind of people go to?"
Christianity is not about keeping up appearances.
Christianity is not about being the popular kid.
Christianity is not about hanging out with the right crowd.
Christianity is about letting the Holy Spirit move us to have passion for the work of Christ in this world - God's world - with the people we will encounter right here, right now.
You've heard me preach about letting our Naomi qualities show.
You've heard me preach about finding Jesus among us.
You've heard me preach about being too busy with what we're called to do to be busy dying.
And you've heard me preach about our being sent.
They say a pastor really preaches only one sermon, and if you've been paying attention, you may have figured out what mine is.
Here's a summary:
Trust that God is equipping you as a minister
as a priest -
to bless this church, this village, this nation, and this world.
Follow Jesus into the places where love is needed most.
Let the Holy Spirit move you to meet people where they are, right here, right now.
And do not be afraid or self conscious.
That's the assignment I leave you, for this week, and for the years ahead.
Blessings to you all, servants of God.