HOMILY & IDEAS

Acts 2:1-11, 1 Cor 12:3-13, Jn 20:19-23

Here are some stones I have overturned to see what ideas lay underneath. I hope you can grab hold of something, pull -- and discover that it has some homiletic roots for you.

When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim. Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem. At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd, but they were confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language. They were astounded, and in amazement they asked -- Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans? Then how does each of us hear them in his own native language? We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene, as well as travelers from Rome, both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs, yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues of the mighty acts of God.

Whenever I read this scripture which tells of the inbreaking of the spirit I seem to focus on the power and majesty of its entrance. How mighty and forceful is a strong driving wind which can be heard from each corner of the walled city of Jerusalem? How loud is this sound which captures the attention of the tens of thousands inhabiting Jerusalem? Where else in all of scripture do tongues as of fire rest upon individuals -- enabling them to mysteriously overcome the divisions of native languages?

In the world of forest firefighting there is an aerial drop of water or other fire-extinguishing chemicals called a Salvo Drop. This is when a fireplane flies dangerously low and close to a small, concentrated area of intense fire and drops its entire contents in a single, lump sum. The crashing sound of thousands of gallons of liquid released in one, massive gush shakes the ground rendering an intense fire completely defenseless. In short, picture the contents of a few swimming pools being dropped upon your back yard from only hundreds of feet up in the air. That is power. That is an entrance. That is the kind of entrance we see in this scripture.

It is time for the dove, water, and a breezy wind that blows where it will to make the entrance of all entrances.

My first point? There is no mistaking that something important, unprecedented, and mighty is happening here. The Church is born in a spectacular display of power by the third person of the Trinity.

Because this third person of the Trinity seems to get the least press or attention, it would have been influential and effective to have experienced this entrance of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps we would have felt more convinced of the power of the Spirit in the world and in our lives. We would have been sold on the idea that something new and spectacular has entered our world and our lives.

Instead, it seems at times that the Spirit only has enough gusto to blow a few birthday candles out once a year to celebrate another year gone by, or that the Spirit is only made present by Charismatic prayer groups that invoke the name of the Spirit often. But, of course, this is not true. The Spirit lives and the power and presence of the Spirit has not diminished with time.

A homily on this Feast of Pentecost might make the point that the Spirit came into the world in a big, big way; but that the Spirit is still alive and well today; that the Spirit operates in each and every one of our lives; that the Spirit works for us; and that the Spirit works through us.

The Spirit primarily shows itself in individuals in Scripture by speaking through them. As priests and deacons who preach the Word often, how often have we experienced this power in our lives? How many times have we finished preaching and have sat down only to say to ourselves -- Where did those beautiful or powerful words come from? Of course, we know the answer: the Holy Spirit.

How many times have we exited after ministering in very difficult or tragic situations unscathed and successful knowing that it was by the Grace and the Power of the Spirit that kept us intact and effective as instruments of God?

Of course, the workings of the Spirit can also be uncovered in the lives of our parishioners in many, many ways. By the sharing of our experiences and by reminding our parishioners of the workings of the Spirit in their lives may we remind ourselves and our parishioners that the Spirit, indeed, is alive and well and living in our world and in our lives.

The Spirit effects us, the Spirit works through us. The Spirit lives.

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