None of us know what is happening next in our discipleship, what callings and challenges are ahead, but we are known by the Triune God whose Spirit fills and empowers us all.
Pr. Joseph G. Crippen
The Day of Pentecost, year C
Texts: Acts 2:1-21; John 14:8-17, 25-27
Beloved in Christ, grace to you, and peace in the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
Mary Magdalene had no idea. Neither did Andrew or Thomas or Joanna.
None of the one hundred and twenty believers gathered in Jerusalem knew what was going to happen as they woke up that morning.
Jesus had told them to wait in the city and they would receive power from the Holy Spirit.
But this? They had no idea they’d all be filled with God’s Spirit just like Jesus, and that because of them thousands would come to trust the new life God had made in Christ’s resurrection. They had no idea they had the ability to preach and teach and witness. None of them had the language skills to speak clearly to at least fifteen different language groups. And none of them had any idea what would be asked of them in the years to come, what being a disciple of Christ would cost them, what they would be called to do, even how they were going to learn how to do it.
None of these four who are affirming their faith in the Triune God and committing their lives to serving God have any idea, either.
It may not be wise to ask people in their teen years to affirm the promises made at their baptism, to affirm that they share the faith of the Christian Church, and to promise to be active and engaged in Christian community and in service to God’s justice and peace. Many adult Christians might struggle with that. But, wise or not, we will ask these four wonderful young people to do just that today.
And four years of study, of walking with mentors and family, of being prayed for by those who love them, doesn’t mean these four know what it will mean for them to be a disciple of Christ. They don’t know if they’ve got the skills, language or otherwise, to serve God; they don’t know what that service will look like. Careers are far in the future, opportunities yet to come to witness by their love and actions are still unknown. None of these four know what being Christ’s disciple will ask of them in the years to come, what it will cost, what they will be called to do, even how to learn how to do it.
You want to know the truth? Most of us here don’t know any of that, either.
But none of you here need to be afraid of not knowing these things.
Today, Jesus repeats his assurance that, within the mystery of God, he, the Son, is deeply connected to God the Father, there is a life that lives between the two. But Jesus tells a deeper joy: there is another within God’s life, the Spirit of God, who also dwells with the Father and the Son, who will be sent to you. To me. To this world.
This Spirit actually already lives in you, gives your own spirit birth into God’s new life. And not just you four: everyone in this room, in this world. God’s Spirit knows you intimately: your life, your fears, your hopes, your dreams, your brokenness, your joys, your sadness.
And because the Spirit knows you, Jesus says she is your Advocate, who speaks on your behalf within God’s life. God’s Spirit is called alongside you, to walk with you, live in you, never leave you. God is as close to you as your own breath. Which is why Advocate is also translated Comforter. The one who embraces you, and me, and all God’s children, and breathes God’s words of love and grace to you.
It doesn’t matter what you don’t know about what’s next. You are deeply and wholly known.
But be ready for the fire, too.
All of you here today, not just you four, be ready: today we’re going to ask the Spirit to stir up in all of you. To inflame you, inspire you, fill you, and send you out to be God’s Christ in the world.
What that will mean for any one of you on any given day, you’ll receive from the Spirit when you need it. God’s Spirit will teach and remind you about the Way of Christ, love of God and neighbor, love of enemies, working for justice for all God’s children, so you’ll know the path to walk. The Spirit will keep you up to speed if you listen. And if you need gifts, you’ll get them. If you need guidance, direction, it’s yours. If you need courage, support, you have it.
Be ready for the Spirit’s fire. Listen to God’s voice speak in your heart and call you to whatever it is that is needed. However old or young you are. However gifted or ungifted you think you are. However weak or strong you believe yourself to be. Whatever doubt or concern any of you here have about your adequacy, your faith, your calling, your path, the Spirit’s fire is for all. Including you.
None of us know what’s ahead. But we are fully known. That’s the beautiful reality of Christian life.
In the Spirit, God has called you all to ventures that you cannot yet see the ending of, to walk paths you have not yet trodden, to go through perils you do not yet know.
But God’s Spirit fills you and knows you and walks with you and will give you the faith and trust and fire you need to go out with good courage, not knowing where you go, but only that God’s hand is leading you and God’s love supporting you in Christ our Lord.
Come, Holy Spirit. Fill these four. Fill all in this room. Fill your world with your comfort and courage and fire, until your new creation is completed in us and by us all through you. Amen