Rev'd entered the historic pulpit of a new england Baptist Church on Sunday October 22 thinking he had an average sermon prepared on the Holy Spirit. About half way through what appeared to be an average sermon on Thursday (when he finished it) turned out to be a less than average on Sunday morning.
As the congregation exited the sanctuary the first person through said it was a nice sermon. A few persons later one gentlemen appreciated how Rev. tied in the birth of L. R. Baptist and the work of God's Spirit. But when Sunday dinner rolled around that evening at a congregant's house the truth was exposed: "that sermon stunk this morning." Rev. agreed and thought, just have to work harder next time.
Read for yourself and see what you think.
Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Romans 8:26-27 & John 14:15-17
In the four years of life here in New England I have noted the frequent irregularities in your speech pattern. On Friday I went to get a new chain for my chainsaw, the repairman said I would need a new bah in about a year, what? The other day I heard a husband call out to his wife Marianner, ah well. I know it swings both ways, y’all just kind of look at me when I say Woonsocket. Appalachians have their own way of speaking and y’all Yankees do too. We also have a different way of speaking about our religion.
New Englanders have traditionally talked about God, meaning God the Father, maker of heaven and earth. While my people speak a lot about Jesus. Both of us completely skip over the Holy Spirit, I guess we’ve left it for the west coasters. We really do ourselves a great disservice to our understanding and appreciation of God, the Holy Spirit.
We try as best as we can to wrap our heads around God the Creator, we can look around at the moon and stars and say God the Creator made all of this. We can even wrap our heads around Jesus, we can read the Beatitudes and say Jesus spoke those. But how do you refer to the Holy Spirit other than someone rolling around on the floor speaking a language you’ve never heard before?
This year Al Lawton has been snooping, digging and rooting around the history of this congregation. I want to lift the description those church planters left as they retold how this congregation came into in a letter to the Warren Association, “during the past winter and spring a very precious and extensive revival of religion was experienced in this place. As the fruits of this revival, on the 5th of last April a regular Baptist Church was formed…which consists of 24 members.”
There is something we can point to in reference to the Holy Spirit, the birth of this congregation.
God the Creator, for whatever reason, created heaven and earth. For whatever reason God in Jesus Christ freely came to fully experience the life of a human. For whatever reason God’s Spirit now constantly dwells among us. God didn’t take a nap after creating, God didn’t abandon us once Jesus went to be at the right hand of the Father, God came to be with us, to help us, to advocate and guide us on this pilgrimage.
God’s spirit inspires and breathes lives into churches and individuals. But we as Christians in no way possess a monopoly of God’s Spirit. God’s Spirit pops up in unusual places. Sometimes we find truth, head God’s voice and find meaning in the furthest points away from congregations. Sometimes the Church makes the most idiotic and craziest statements that seem like the last thing God’s Spirit would lead one to say.
We can sit around and wait for God’s Spirit to move us, to cause us to quake, or we can work like mad to create a hospitable and open place for the Spirit to live and inspire life in us. We plan for spontaneity. We prepare, prepare, prepare for the moments when God’s Spirit does move and become more real.
Why wait and prepare for moments of Spirit inspired spontaneity? We all want to experience life more fully. We are here, whether we acknowledge it or not, because we are seeking a moment of clarity, love and grace. We are seeking a God centered life. We want what those first disciples had. We wish to see the deeds of Jesus, to hear his words, to taste the bread and fish he prepared, to smell his goodness, and to touch those whom he healed. We want to move, just like his disciples from a bunch who rumble, bumble and stumble in the gospels they barely roll into the book of Acts, but by the second chapter they are boldly living and acting as real disciples. They emerge from behind locked doors as people with something to say, with words worth hearing. What happened to them that can happen to us?
Behind those locked doors the Resurrected Christ came and breathed on them and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit. Receive my helper, your advocated and guide, receive Truth. With the aid of God’s Spirit they emerged from the locked doors and begin to freely live as God’s children.
We are searching for the realization of a life that the old hymn declares:
As the flow’r within the seed
As in the cone the tree
So, praise the God of truth and grace
His Spirit dwelleth in me.
Christ liveth in me,
Christ liveth in me
O what a salvation this.
That Christ liveth in me.
God didn’t create us, send his Son and his Spirit to make our lives a living hell and constantly break our hearts. God is a God who constantly gives, gives and keeps giving.
You want this life Spirit-filled and God-centered life. It is within your grasp. This life doesn’t cost anything. You don’t have to go on a silent journey to the Himalayas to find it. You only have to look within and find the indwelling Spirit, the image of God you were created in. Find the rich goodness of God in you. Look around and see the many ways God is reaching out to find you.
Sisters and Brothers believe, receive the Holy Spirit, the Spirit that help us pray, the Spirit that guides us to Truth, advocates for us and helps us in this life. Find and receive the Spirit indwelling in you.
God of Life and Truth,
Breath your spirit on us,
And give us the new life you so desire.
We are desperate for your words,
For your grace
And for your love.
In Christ’s name we pray