Pentecost Sunday

Lectionary 1st Reading Psalm 2nd Reading Gospel
Anglican lectionary
Acts 2:1-21
104:26-36
Romans 8:22-27
John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15
Catholic lectionary:
Gen. 11:1-9 / Ex. 19:3-8a, 16-20b
(both)
John 7:37-39

Title: Move  from behind closed doors to the Church
Text: Acts 2:1-11
Theme: Christ is calling his community to be transformed for mission in the World.
Purpose: An exhortation to the community to include creation care as part of the mission.

NOTES ON THE READING

  1. After the crucifixion of Jesus, the disciples were hiding behind closed doors and were afraid.  They did not want to suffer the same death as their teacher did. (John 20 gives examples).
  2. In Luke 24:49 the disciples receive a promise of the Holy Spirit and this is the reason they stay in Jerusalem in the upper room.
  3. The pouring out of the Spirit on the community transforms them into a community for mission = the church.
  4. The rush of wind and the fire are the signs that the community received from the Holy Spirit, and spoke in different languages about “the marvellous things about God” (2:11), communicating the good news of the gospel.
  5. This is the founding of a new community of believers, the church; that has a Call to proclaim the project of life, that Jesus started
  6. The project of life includes creation care.

 
DRAFT SERMON/ SERMON OUTLINE

  1. In the gospel reading, John the Evangelist, chapter 20, describes the reactions of Jesus’ followers in the first days after the events of the resurrection. Can you imagine those frightened and confused disciples as the earliest post-resurrection community?

John 20:19-23 reads “On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”  After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again, Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”  And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
 
Seeking to regroup following the loss of their beloved leader, they have gathered in shock and despair, behind closed doors. Scripture also shares that some of them returned to the jobs they had before they met Jesus.  They went back to the things they knew, mainly fishing. Imagine their astonishment and awe when Jesus, whom they have seen dead and buried, appears among them. Yet here is the proof: seeing the wounds in his hands and his side with their own eyes, they cannot disbelieve their truth. Jesus lives! Their response to the good news of the resurrection is God’s peace, through the precious breath of the Holy Spirit. This is a special filling of the Holy Spirit for the disciples, a foretaste of what all believers would experience at Pentecost. Their faith that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God and that through believing they will have eternal life, is steadfast and secure. 
 
John 20:24-29 reads “A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”  Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

Thomas wanted Jesus’ physical body, but God’s plan was wiser. Jesus wants to be present with all of us all the time. Even now He is present with you in the form of the Holy Spirit. Some need to doubt before they believe, like Thomas. If doubt leads to questions, and questions lead to answers and the answers are accepted, the doubt has done good work. But if doubt becomes stubbornness and stubbornness becomes the lifestyle doubt harms faith.  When you doubt, don’t stop there, but let your doubt deepen your faith as you continue to search for the answer.

  1. In Luke 24:49 we read  “See! I will send you what My Father promised. But you are to stay in Jerusalem until you have received power from above.” The risen Lord sends the community of faith to proclaim that through the cross and the resurrection, God extends to all nations the forgiveness of sins and salvation.  But the disciples must wait in Jerusalem until the power of the Holy Spirit descends upon them before they go out and proclaim the gospel message. Unlike in other Gospels, the proclamation of the gospel message will begin in Jerusalem and not in Galilee.

 

  1. Christ offers salvation to all people without regard to nationality. Visitors in Jerusalem were surprised to hear the apostles speaking in their native languages, but they should not be. God works all kinds of miracles to spread the gospel, using many languages as he calls all people to become his followers.  No matter what your race, colour, nationality, or language, God speaks to you. Are you listening?

 

  1. Acts 2:1-11. The disciples who were locked behind closed doors were transformed into a community on the GO! The Holy Spirit baptized them with fire. Tongues symbolize speech and the communication of the Gospel. Fire symbolizes God’s purifying presence, burning away the undesirable elements of our lives and setting our hearts on fire to ignite the lives of others.

 

  1. For the God of Jesus, LIFE is the absolute value. And this is true for the church and politicians as well. And this will mean something if when LIFE is in danger or is threatened, we as followers of Jesus, should act in favour of defending LIFE. This is God’s project. And LIFE needs to be understood as all that God has created, all that needs to be cared for and sustained in all the Universe.  Our Call is to proclaim the project of God in the project of LIFE that Jesus started, The Kingdom of God. And when this project is in danger, we need to act in the Spirit of service by reusing, restoring, reimagining, LIFE, and care for LIFE.

 

  1. Today our call is to act, to serve, to be in tune with others who recognize that we have an URGENT CALL in the defense of LIFE. Christian living and social issues that are violated, are closely related because of the same interest: the well-being and the common good of our neighbour. Building homes, and health care, opportunities for development, striving against all types of violence against children and women, and the care of the environment all these actions are all in line with The LIFE project that Jesus started.

 
To conclude
Check yourself before you wreck yourself (Jamaican proverb).
 
A healthy Christian community attracts people to Christ. The Jerusalem church’s zeal for worship and brotherly love was contagious. A healthy, loving church will grow and serve the project of life that Jesus started. And the challenges that they’ll face in the power of the Spirit.
 
Today we all face the climate crisis globally, so we need local actions to respond. Make sure that your community of faith, the church, is aware of the crisis and is prepared to make the necessary steps.
 
In this season of Pentecost, let us ask God to send us His Spirit and renew the face of the earth.  AMEN

 

 

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Archbishop ++Julio E. Murray

Archbishop Julio E. Murray

Archbishop Julio Murray is the Bishop of the Anglican Episcopal Diocese of Panama. He serves as the Chairperson of the Anglican Communion Environmental Network (ACEN). He invites all people to take part in the local and global response seeking climate justice and creation care.

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