Today we begin our season of Pentecost. just as winter turned to spring and spring is turning to summer, so the spiritual forces are calling us to move forward in the journey to grow closer to God, to discover the Kingdom of God.
`In our spiritual journey, Jesus has ascended. That can cause some people problems. Some women grow to trust their fathers or someone who has been a father to them – and then other men, even their husbands always seem to come up short in their eyes. Some men have the same thing with their mothers, or some special woman, or the idea of a woman – and their wives always come up short in their eyes.
At some point, you have to say, “This is the man I am with, or this is the woman I am with. But you want them to be better for you. You want them to elevate you, help you be a better and stronger person. When they don’t you argue and criticize and become over sensitive and things get worse. All these things happened after the Ascension of Jesus.
This is the time in our spiritual journey every year when we find that help we need with each other, when we find a way that we can raise each other up. It is the gift of the Holy Spirit and, in scripture, we learn about it in the story of Pentecost.
Jesus has been crucified. They have seen him resurrected. But the disciples are in hiding, remembering Jesus and his words and his appearances to them. The police are looking for them. They are afraid to leave the room they are in.
Then came the Holy Spirit: like tongues of fire over each of them. They felt something happening in them. They suddenly had the courage to go out into the plaza, where thousands of people were gathered from different parts of the Roman Empire. The disciples went out to tell the truth about the injustice of the political murder of Jesus Christ, to say that the government had killed the Son of God.
Then there was a miracle. The disciples were all Galileans, from a poor region, who spoke in a particular dialect. But when they began to speak, they were understood by everybody, by people who spoke different languages. This was the miracle of that day in the plaza.
In their culture, this reversed the story of the tower of Babel, a story they all knew. In that story God had made people to have different languages so they could not understand each other; why? Because some of them had tried to build an empire, controlling all the people of the earth. They had built a tower as their headquarters. Today, we would call it the headquarters of the International Monetary Fund or the Pentagon. The arrogance of man, trying to build an empire, to put the whole human race under their control – so that God punished them. He destroyed the tower and spread them all out speaking different languages so that no one group could control everybody.
Now, when the miracle of that day happened, they were able to understand each other because through the Spirit they were living together in the Kingdom of God and that CHANGED THEIR RELATIONSHIPS WITH EACH OTHER. They could be unified with each other in a way they never believed possible – not in an empire controlled by men but in a Kingdom under the righteous authority of God himself.
Now the disciples delivered a message through this miracle. The Advocate of Truth, the Holy Spirit that Jesus promised came into them, spoke through them, and indicted the world for the crucifixion of Jesus, of the innocent. And the people were cut to the heart because of what had been done.
Then there was a second message: The possibility of Kingdom Relationships between you, of forgiveness and new life. If you would repent, if you stand up against the wickedness of the world, God would make new relationships possible. How will this be possible? The Holy Spirit will elevate you!
Who was in the crowd? The oppressed were there. But Peter says they are guilty and should repent. Guilty of what? Guilty of not struggling against the crucifixion of the innocent! Guilty of what? Of being uninspired, uncourageous. Guilty of having relationships with each other that are destructive, stupid, that weaken the unity of the people of God.
And are we so different? There is a struggle for justice for our people. But what are we doing? We each go our own way. We are fighting with each other in our families. We are jealous. We are trying to compete for who is in charge.
The disciples sought to elevate the people on this day of Pentecost.
We call God “the most high”. We see in him all that is good, all that we are called to be. The Spirit comes on these disciples. In scripture it says it is the spirit of wisdom, of understanding, of counsel and power, of knowledge and fear of the Lord
It says when the Spirit comes on you, He will not judge by what he sees or hears: that means you trust in the Holy Spirit to guide you. No matter what somebody tells you that something is impossible, you trust in the Holy Spirit to guide you.
It says the Spirit comes with righteousness and the Spirit will judge the needy and the poor – not the judgment of the powerful, but the righteous judgment of God. And it says while the Spirit will give justice to the poor, the Spirit will slay the wicked!
And it says, when the Holy Spirit comes on a people “the leopard will lie down with the goat, the lion will lie down with the lamb and a little child will lead them.” That means that when the Holy Spirit comes, that our relationships between us change. Relationships that we thought were impossible, through the Spirit, they become possible.
The Spirit will create new relationships between people. Thr0ough the intervention of the Holy Spirit, we CAN live in the Kingdom OF GOD while on earth!
Now, the disciples had a method of struggle – just as John the Baptist had his baptism, they had the baptism of the spirit. It was an effective form of struggle.
Remember John, before Jesus began His movement, John baptized people in the river – and remember that was an act of social resistance. For those who were baptized were rejecting the corrupt political leaders and choosing God as their leader – everyday, in public. And in humbling themselves before the Lord, they were elevating themselves, becoming better people, and demonstrating they were no longer subject to a corrupt, hypocritical government.
The power structure fears our elevation. As long as we accept their definitions: that we are criminals because we are undocumented, that we are poor because we are not as good or as smart as the rich; as long as we accept those definitions we will be powerless. And when we repent and seek to elevate each other to the Way God calls us to live, we pose a threat to the wicked men who oppress our people, but we do it in an unexpected way against which they have no real defense..
Jesus did the unexpected – he was elevated by the Spirit. He had a different method of struggle that started a movement they could not stop.
Now the disciples did the unexpected – they were elevated by the Spirit. So they began the Baptism in the Spirit. 3000 were baptized that first day. It was both a personal transformation, a transformation in the relationships between people and an act of social resistance. In being baptized they made a commitment to change themselves but they were also demonstrating against the government’s murder of Jesus Christ. It was a new form of protest, a witness protest, and it attracted great numbers and terrified the rulers.
This is our time of Pentecost. That is why we are called to go into action during this Pentecost on June 30th, and then again on July 4th. We are going to mobilize in a different way. We are going to stand up together against the wickedness of the separation of families.
We are called to open our hearts and feel the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, and through the Spirit elevate each other so that we can look to each other and trust each other.
We’re called to let the Holy Spirit come on us. We no longer turn away from each other and look to a personal relationship with Jesus for strength. Instead now we look to each other for strength – and we work to elevate each other. To make each other better and stronger – because, as Jesus taught, the Kingdom is among us, God has put it there!
It is hard for us to trust each other. It is easier for us to be private and alone and just trust Jesus. But the Holy Spirit comes and says “Trust each other! Elevate each other! I know you don’t know how sometimes to elevate each other. I know sometimes you feel your friends, even your family, your husband, is addicted to the low life. But open your heart to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will put the words in your mouth that you need to speak to make you an “Elevator.” And as you elevate those around you, then they will elevate you. Believe me today that the Holy Spirit is coming amongst us. You are going to feel it. It may knock you down tomorrow.
This is that season. It was in the rain that came down suddenly in the last few days. It was in the wind. Like a storm, the Holy Spirit disturbs the world. It is God intervening and saying He doesn’t like what is going on. He doesn’t like injustice. He doesn’t like what the government is doing to his families, to his children. Through the Spirit, He offers to elevate us, to make us strong. He will make us a community of believers that elevate each other, that find Jesus in each other; the Spirit will make us witnesses to the truth that we are God’s people, to give us that power, his power…
Let the Holy Spirit come, let it come like the rain, and let it lift us up together. It is Pentecost and Here Comes the Holy Spirit. Get Ready! Amen. Amen. Amen