Der Vasken's Sermon on June 2, 2019

Jun 4, 2019

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Next Sunday is the Feast of Pentecost and needless to say, a very important feast day.  I want to speak about it today because next week, with the closing of our Armenian School and Sunday School programs, there will be no formal sermon.  

Pentecost is considered the birth of the Christian Church when the Holy Spirit came down in wind and flame and transformed the Disciples of Christ into the Apostles of Christ, transformed disciples from those who learn to those who teach.  Next Sunday will be the fiftieth day since Easter and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Pentecost is about the Holy Spirit. Pentecost is the Feast of the Holy Spirit entering into the life of the Church. 

The Holy Spirit is essential to our Christian faith and plays a vital role for us that few of us ever speak about or know what to do with.  The Holy Spirit can be the light that guides our way.  It can be like heat that warms the chill out of the air.  The Holy Spirit can warm a cold heart distanced from God for whatever reason.  There is no limit to what God's Spirit can do in this world.  God's Holy Spirit can set us free from difficult memories from our past and help us face a new day.

So this Feast of the Holy Spirit, we can say, celebrates a special harvest.  It is a harvest that is produced when the Holy Spirit lives within the lives of people.  It is a harvest of love and joy and peace and patience.  It is a harvest of kindness and goodness and faithfulness.  Next Sunday is the feast of planting and cultivating our faith.  It is the day we celebrate the harvest planted by God's Holy Spirit.

All throughout the Bible, we hear examples of planting and cultivating and the Bible repeatedly reminds us that, just as a farmer must plant seeds if he or she hopes to reap a harvest, we, too, must plant some good seeds in our lives if we want a life of meaning and happiness and faith.  We must plant good seeds in the fields of our families and our careers.  We must plant good seeds in our personal lives and in our professional lives.  This is a biblical law established by God for this world.

To reap a good harvest, we must first plant good seeds because one determines the other.  Pentecost Sunday serves to remind us that if we want to reap happiness, we have to sow happiness by bringing joy to others.  If we want to reap a place in Heaven, we must first sow the seeds of faith by spending time with God.  And if we want to reap friendship, we should first sow the seed by being a friend.  All that is a harvest planted by us but nourished by the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Holy Trinity.  We invoke His name at the start of every prayer when we say: "In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."  So when we pray to God for help, when we pray to God for assistance or clarity, when we pray for understanding or good health or safe travels, God sends us His Holy Spirit to stand with us in those moments of uncertainty or doubt or weakness or grief.

Last week I mentioned the story of the Ascension when Jesus ascended into the clouds of Heaven as He spoke His final Words to His disciples.  In this final message He tells His disciples to wait in the Upper Room for the Holy Spirit but He uses a lesser-known name for the Holy Spirit than we are used to.  He calls the Holy Spirit "The Comforter"--the One Who will bring us comfort in our times of need and the One Who will comfort us during the challenges and misfortunes of life.

So when we begin our prayers with the Words: "In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit," let us do so knowing with whom we are speaking and what power can come from that prayer.  Let us ask the Holy Spirit to watch over our children, watch over our parents, watch over our families, watch over our sick and watch over us all.  And grace us with the Comfort that only the Holy Spirit can bring into the lives of all those who believe.  The Holy Spirit enabled the disciples to speak the languages of the world on that first Pentecost.

Today, that same Holy Spirit can enable us to speak the languages of compassion and charity and love and to speak the languages of peace and patience and humility and kindness.  Today, the Holy Spirit can help us love more and quarrel less, accept more and disagree less, and to become more involved and less distant.  Next Sunday is the Feast of Pentecost.  It is the Feast of the Holy Spirit.  It is the Feast of planting and harvesting.  And it is an opportunity to look at ourselves and ask the questions:

  • How does the Holy Spirit influence my life and my family?
  • Am I open to His guidance?
  • Do I look to Him for answers?
  • Or do I ignore Him as if He does not exist?

Pentecost reminds us that what we plant in this world is what we will harvest in our eternal life.  So may we all take time to look at our lives and cultivate meaningful harvests.

  • How does the Holy Spirit influence my life and my family?
  • And am I open to His guidance?