Sermon Day of Pentecost, Yr C
May 24, 2007 Leave a comment
Pentecost Sunday Yr C, 27/05/2007
Rom 8:14-18 & Jn 14:8-17
Rev. Garth Wehrfritz-Hanson
Pastor of Grace Lutheran Church, &
Chaplain of The Good Samaritan Society’s
South Ridge Village, Medicine Hat, Alberta
“Led by the Holy Spirit”
A Sunday School class was studying the Apostles’ Creed. Each member of the class was given a section of the creed to learn by heart; then Sunday by Sunday they would take turns to recite the creed, each student repeating their part. And so, one Sunday morning, the class began. The first child stood up and said, “I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.” The second student stood and said, “I believe in Jesus Christ, his only son, our Lord.” Then there was a few moments of silence, before one girl spoke up, “I’m sorry sir, but the boy who believes in the Holy Spirit is absent today.”
Today is Pentecost Sunday, the day that we celebrate not the absence but rather, the presence of the Holy Spirit. Today we celebrate the receiving of the Holy Spirit. Even though we have two-thousand plus years of Christian history; the witness of the biblical authors; and countless saints and theologians of the Church down through the ages up to the present day—nonetheless, the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of God The Holy Trinity, still remains somewhat mysterious to us. The Bible speaks in a wide and creative variety of ways concerning the Holy Spirit. Today we will explore a little our texts from Romans and the Gospel of John.
In our Romans text, Paul sees the Holy Spirit as our “Identity Maker.” What do I mean by that? Well, what Paul is saying here is that when we are baptized, we are made God’s children; we are adopted by God into God’s family. Thus we are led by the Spirit of God into the Church and into a new identity as sons and daughters of God. This new identity given to us by the Holy Spirit, makes us precious in God’s eyes, we are highly valued and loved beyond our human comprehension. So much so, that as family members, we are heirs of God, joint heirs with Christ—we share in Christ’s death and resurrection through baptism. Our identity as children of God thanks to the Holy Spirit’s leading, reminds us that we are of great value and worth.
The Princess Diaries tells the story of Amelia (Mia) Thermopolis (played by Anne Hathaway), an average, awkward teenager whose estranged grandmother (played by Julie Andrews) comes to America to give Mia the biggest news of her life.
Mia visits her grandmother at her opulent mansion in San Francisco. A butler leads Mia to the grand living room, where she stands amazed as several servants bustle about. Suddenly all the servants stand at attention as Mia’s grandmother enters the room. The contrast between Mia and her refined grandmother is painfully apparent. After some small talk, Mia, feeling uncomfortable, finally asks her grandmother, “What is it you want to tell me?”
Her grandmother answers, “Something, I believe, that will have a very big impact on your life.” They walk outside to talk, and her grandmother begins to explain, “Amelia, have you ever heard of Eduard Cristof Philip Gerard Renaldi?”
“No,” Mia responds. Her grandmother tells her he was the crown prince of Genovia.
Mia is as baffled as she is indifferent and shrugs her shoulders. “What about him?” she asks.
Her grandmother says, “Eduard Cristof Philip Gerard Renaldi was also your father.”
Thinking her grandmother is only joking, she laughs, rolls her eyes in disbelief, and says, “If he was a prince, that would make me a…”
“Exactly,” says her grandmother. “A princess. You see, you are not just Amelia Thermopolis. You are Amelia Mignonette Thermopolis Renaldi, the princess of Genovia.”
Mia can hardly speak as this new revelation sinks in. “Me—a—a—a princess?”
The Bible says we are heirs of the God of the universe. The implications of that are far more surprising.1 One implication in particular is quite amazing. In today’s gospel, Jesus promises that the Holy Spirit, here called the Advocate, or in other translations and paraphrases: the Helper, the Comforter, the Counsellor. This Spirit will assist us, says Jesus in loving one another by doing great works. The Spirit dwells, makes a home in us and among us. Therefore we are given the gifts and fruit of the Spirit—the greatest of which is love for one another. Here is a beautiful story describing how the Spirit works to produce love and great works within us.
Corrie ten Boom and her sister were jailed by the Nazis when it was discovered that they were hiding Jews in their home in the Netherlands. Eventually they were sent to the Ravensbruck concentration camp. There they lived in squalid conditions, surrounded by lice and rats and death. But even in the midst of such hardship, they continued to trust in God. They realised that the Germans might take their lives away, but in the end they knew that they had something that the Germans could never take away—their faith.
Corrie’s sister died at Ravensbruck. But in the summer of 1945, Corrie was released due to a clerical error. Following the war, she opened a home in the Netherlands, where those who had suffered like her could come and receive help.
In 1946 the German government gave the organization that Corrie had founded a place to do the same kind of work in Germany. The place: the former concentration camp at Darmstadt. Corrie accepted the gift, believing that there was no better place to teach people that the power of love is greater than the power of hate.
More detailed information about Corrie ten Boom and her family may be found in her book, The Hiding Place. The life of Corrie ten Boom is an example of Jesus’ promise that those who trust him will be able to do great works.2
Today we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit at work in the Church; in people like Corrie ten Boom; in you and me. The Spirit who walks along side of us; dwells in us, gives energy and the breath of life to us. The Identity Maker, who adopts us children and heirs of God through our Baptism. The Holy Spirit who leads us into all truth about God, Christ, the world, and ourselves. Who leads us down paths in our journey of faith to live meaningful, grace-filled lives and make a difference in the Church and in the world by loving one another as Christ has loved us. Amen! Come, Holy Spirit!
1 Craig Brian Larson & Lori Quicke, More Movie-Based Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching: 101 Clips to Show or Tell (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004), pp. 28-29.
2 Citation from Emphasis Vol. 25, No. 1, May-June 1995 (Lima, OH: CSS Publishing Co., Inc.), p. 39.