SERMON OF THE WEEK
Sunday, May 19, 2013
Next Sunday is Pentecost Sunday, the day when the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Holy Spirit enabled them.
Scripture Reading: (Book of Acts, 2:1-11) "The Holy Spirit Comes at Pentecost"
"1When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.
2Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.
3They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.
4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them.
5Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven.
6When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language.
7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans?
8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language?
9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,[a]
10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome
11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!”
Pentecost is the great festival that marks the birth of the Christian Church by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Fifty days after the resurrection of Jesus, the twelve apostles, Jesus' mother and family, and many other of his disciples gathered together in Jerusalem for the Jewish harvest festival that was celebrated on the fiftieth day of Passover. While they were indoors praying, a sound like that of a rushing wind filled the house and tongues of fire descended and rested over each of their heads. This was the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on human flesh promised by God through the prophet Joel (Joel 2:28-29). The disciples were suddenly empowered to proclaim the gospel of the risen Christ. They went out into the streets of Jerusalem and began preaching to the crowds gathered for the festival. Not only did the disciples preach with boldness and vigor, but by a miracle of the Holy Spirit they spoke in the native languages of the people present, many who had come from all corners of the Roman Empire. This created a sensation. The apostle Peter seized the moment and addressed the crowd, preaching to them about Jesus' death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins. The result was that about three thousand converts were baptized that day. The Holy Spirit descended upon them in the form of a mighty rushing wind. The assembled began to speak in languages they did not know before. There were many visitors from all over the land. They were astonished to hear them praise God in alien languages. (This account is detailed in the Book of Acts 2:1-11.)
Christian churches see Pentecost as the final fulfillment of the mission of Jesus. It is traditionally called the beginning of the Holy Apostolic Church. It reveals the identities of the divine trinity, namely, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Pentecost was a once-in-history event. What we can learn from the day of Pentecost are the following:
1) The birth of the Christian church. The Church comes into reality on the day of Pentecost. It was in Antioch that the followers of Christ were first called Christians. (Acts 11:26). The Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch traces its origin and foundation back to the very beginnings of Christianity, and prides itself as one of the oldest and established apostolic churches in the world.
2) The church was created by God. Jesus came to this world, and after his death, burial and resurrection, the church was formed. The church came into reality on the day of Pentecost.
3) The purpose of the church is to communicate love and message of God.
4) The goal of the Church is to establish a fellowship among its members. We are all part of that fellowship and shall remain that way. It's a place where we can go and hear the truth. It ministers to its people and meets the needs of its members. The church is like a shade tree on a summer day, a cup of cool water when we are thirsty, a place to come and know we won't be rejected.
Pentecost has become a sacred day on the Christian calendar. Pentecost is a great harvest of the Holy Spirit to empower and renew our life to be a witness for Christ. Our faith in God cannot live on man's wisdom alone. We need the experience of the Holy Spirit to sustain our faith and empower us to be the disciple of Christ.
The human body is a remarkable machine to maintain a constant temperature of 98.6 degrees, no matter how cold it is outside the house. There is an inner mechanism that works well for us. Like a human temperature control mechanism, the Holy Spirit will keep us in the spiritual zone and transform us when we lack faith. It will unite us when we are divided. It can create an awareness in the moral flaws and spiritual weaknesses in us. It can empower us to speak to others the message of the gospel.
It is the Holy Spirit that makes us work the way we were meant to be. Without the Holy Spirit, we can do very little. With the Holy Spirit, we can shine God's light in us as well as on others. We can fill Christ in us and others to make a better life for everyone.
Rev. Dr. V KurianThomas Valiyaparambil