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May 20, 2018

Pentecost Sunday: Come and See

Pentecost Sunday: Come and See

Passage: John 15:26-27

Speaker: Father Will Lowry

Series: All

Category: All

Keywords: come and see, pentecost

The portents of God are mercy, love, forgiveness and hope and they are given to everyone on earth. We, the church in the world, anointed by the Holy Spirit are called upon - commanded to - share these gifts of the Spirit with ALL PEOPLE.

Alright. Who’s it gonna be?

Look around you. Is it the person next to you? Is it you? Is the person next to you looking at you weirdly? Do you have a fiery tongue floating above your head?

Do you see the magnificent gifts of the spirit floating around on your neighbors' heads, do you hear them speaking different languages, are you waiting for that sudden rush of a great wind?

Everyone get ready. It’s coming.

It is hard not to compare the magnificence of the Pentecost Experience and the seemingly “everydayness” (if that’s a word) of our liturgical worship. After all Pentecost is widely known as the birthday of the Church.

There are other traditions which often have enthusiastic experiences of being taken hold of by the Spirit - probably not all that dissimilar to the description we have from Luke’s accounting from the Acts of the Apostles. However, it is as rare to us in this Episcopal tradition, as it seems to have been to those in Judea. (Although there are indeed charismatic churches in our tradition.) 

Instead, we have been given nicknames like “The Frozen Chosen” or is it the “Chosen Frozen (I can’t remember) and “those in the Liturgical Tradition” as if it were a bad thing. As the cartoon cat Garfield might attest, “We resemble those remarks.” Or, as one resource suggested, we are in “Stealth Charismatic” (mission impossible theme) mode.

But, the thing is, if we are paying attention, the resurrected Christ is always present through the gift of the Holy Spirit. There is no need to try and manufacture “spirit”. The astounding gifts of the Spirit are readily available and present to us right now.

Lee Ramsey Jr., author and Methodist minister writes,

Pentecost verifies Christmas….God offers authentic human communion. Through ordinary human speech, the Holy Spirit establishes unity amid diversity, a fulfilled promise that even the most divided congregations and communities can take to heart.

Each week we invoke the Holy Spirit at the Eucharist - at God’s table. We give thanks and praise to God and we ask the Spirit to be present.

*8 AM

And we most humbly beseech the O’ merciful Father, to hear us; and, of thy almighty goodness, vouchsafe to bless and sanctify, with thy Word and Holy Spirit…”


*10 AM

“We pray you, gracious God, to send your Holy Spirit upon theses gifts that they may be the Sacrament of the Body of Christ ….” (B) “We offer you these gifts. Sanctify them by your Holy Spirit to be for your people…” (A)  

In doing this we are asking to be transformed just as the bread and wine of the Eucharist are. We are asking to be unified as “The Body of Christ” to be in communion (common union) with God and each other.

Perhaps, just as the body gathered in Jerusalem that first Pentecost Sunday we (the church at large) have a hard time understanding each other across our boundaries, both physical and perceived. And surely, even within our own sanctuaries we imagine these dividing lines as well.

But, also like those convened, the Word of God is there to transcend our cultural, social, and spiritual barriers. Those who did not understand each other in speech suddenly heard clearly - in their own languages. They understood plainly something that was foreign to them before.

Mr. Ramsey also writes, “Occasionally God anoints big dreamers, who with their lives and words paint upon a global canvass, renewing visions for human community - dreamers like Martin Luther King Jr. But, God also anoints ordinary believers like the ones who sit in the pews before the preacher.” 

My friends, each of us has been welcomed with the radical equality, love, grace, mercy, acceptance, and hospitality of God. And each of us has been anointed by the Holy Spirit. The portents of God are mercy, love, forgiveness and hope and they are given to everyone on earth. We, the church in the world, anointed by the Holy Spirit are called upon - commanded to - share these gifts of the Spirit with ALL PEOPLE.

I have this pin - it sits on the credenza behind my desk in my office. It says,

If it’s not Good News for everyone, it’s not Gospel.

And that is where this special event - that we are making a new norm of - that is where “Come and See” fits in.

In the Gospel of John we hear John the Baptist pointing to Jesus. Two of the Baptist’s disciples - one of them Andrew, he and another disciple follow Jesus and listen to him. They are asked by Jesus, “What are you looking for?”. Their reply, “Where are you staying?”

Now, if you don’t know, “Where are you staying?” is the same as asking “What do you do? or Where are you from? in the South. All of these questions are code for “Who are you?”

And Jesus’ answer is: Come and See.

Come and See who I am. Come and find out what I’m all about. Come and experience what I have to offer you. Come and See what God is about.

This is a radical welcome, an invitation to understand the claim that God has on your life. A place to sort out what the anointing of the Holy Spirit means for you.

This is what Peter is saying to those gathered - those who experienced the first Pentecost.

And this is what we experience when we gather here in this place each week and worship God. This is what we experience in the singing of the hymns and praying the prayers and receiving the bread and the cup of God.

All you have to do is show up - come and see - stay a little while and be blessed, given grace, experience forgiveness and healing, receive the gifts of the Holy One - and be loved by God. That’s what God’s people do.