Der Vasken’s Sermon on June 5, 2022

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

Twelve days ago on May 24th, we all heard of that terrible school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, which we spoke about last Sunday. Since that now famous day, there have been twenty other mass shootings in cities and towns around our country—twenty other mass shootings in cities like Tulsa, Oklahoma, Charlestown, North Carolina, Ames, Iowa, Fresno, California, at Xavier University in New Orleans and Chicago and Memphis and Philadelphia and many others. It is truly remarkable to me that this is happening around our country.

So, today I want to look at the special gift God left each of us to help us navigate through troubled times like these. Today is the Feast of Pentecost in the Christian churches around the world. Pentecost is the day when the Holy Spirit transformed the Disciples into the Apostles, transformed the ones who learned from Christ into the ones who now taught about Christ. Today is the 50th day after East so let us take a few moments to better understand what happened on the day of Pentecost and what it means to us.

Ten days before Pentecost, Jesus had ascended into the clouds of Heaven while standing among His Disciples. He offered His last message to them saying, “Be Not Afraid, for I am with you even to the end of the world” and He ascended into the clouds of Heaven. At this point, they were alone and didn’t know what to do. They felt ill equipped to do what He called them to do and expected them to do. They needed confidence in their lives that would help them take His message into the world and stand up for what was right and what was valued by God.

That was what the Disciples received on Pentecost. They received confidence from the Holy Spirit that changed them from learners into doers of the Christian faith. Without it, they lacked the courage to be who God called them to be. Pentecost gave them what they needed and they took the message of Christ into the world and shared His stories and shared His miracles and all about what He said and did. The gift they received on Pentecost was the gift of being equipped with the heart and soul to live out their faith and stand up for the marginalized and forgotten.

On the day of Pentecost, they learned the purpose of having faith, having hope and having love. The Disciples faced a very unwelcoming world. They were seen as enemies of the political and religious leaders of the day. Their lives were in danger at all times because of this, and yet because of Pentecost they now felt ready to change the world. They travelled to cities and villages in foreign lands far removed from Jerusalem. They preached to those people and they healed those people of their illnesses and conditions in the name of Jesus Christ. They noticed that people with problems kept coming to them. Those people were crying out for help in a world that could not help them.

In the days and years ahead, the Apostles saw a paralyzed man stand up for the first time. They saw a man with no voice should out with faith. They saw that a lack of faith brought out the worst in people and they saw people whose faith brought out the best because the faith that they preached was the faith of compassion and forgiveness and the love of God. The faith that they preached changed the world forever. God sent His Holy Spirit into this world to give us a fighting chance to help better the world in so many ways.

He knows our faith and He offers us His hand to hold and His shoulders to lean on and His voice to follow and He gives us His Holy Spirit so that we are prepared to make this world better than we found it.

Pentecost is about the Holy Spirit tearing down our fears and building up our hope. It is about tearing down our doubt and building up our faith. There is no limit to what God’s spirit can do in this world. May 24th was twelve days ago and since that day, twenty more sinister acts have occurred in cities and towns all across the map.

May the Holy Spirit give us the strength and the words and the compassion to help make our world a better place for all. Let us keep the victims and their families in our prayers today and every day. There is no limit to what the Holy Spirit can do in this world and through us.

Amen.

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