Sermon preached at Islip, Sunday 24 May 2015, Pentecost, by Terry Edwards
[the original sermon was presented in a livelier fashion using an actual glove (red, of course!) and demonstrating the points.]
The resurrection liberated Jesus; that's its basic meaning. In John Masefield's play, Procia, Pilate's wife, sends for Longinus, the centurion in charge of the crucifixion and asks him what has happened. "He was a fine young man" said Longinus "but when we were finished with him he was a poor broken thing on a cross". "So you think that he is finished and ended? " said Procia. "No madam, I do not" said Longinus "He is set free throughout the world where neither Jew nor Greek can stop his truth".
We may never know precisely what happened on that Pentecost Sunday more than 2000 years ago, which we celebrate today. What we do know for sure is that it was a very special day in the life of the early Christian Church. We often speak of the events of that day as 'the coming of the Holy Spirit' as though that was the day that the Holy Spirit first came into existence, but of course that isn't so. Read Genesis, the story of how God created the world and you find that it speaks of the Spirit moving across the face of the waters. Read the Acts of the Apostles, the account of the early Church where you will find it made plain that the Holy Spirit spoke through King David and through the Prophet Isaiah. You will find Stephen, the Apostle accusing the Jews of having, all through their history, opposed the Spirit. So you see, the Spirit is God, but God in every age and in every time revealing his truth to mankind.
We heard in the reading about Pentecost that the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit, and from that day on, the Spirit became an important part of their lives and the life of the early Church. How does that happen ? How can the Spirit change lives ? Yours and mine as welt as those first disciples. Take a glove. It reminds me of some people, me included, useless and floppy as it is. It can't pick things up or hold them; it can't even wave very well. How can I make it useful ? Put it on. See how my hand fills it, as the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit. Now my hand fills it, it takes control of it as the Spirit took control of the Disciples' lives and can take control of our lives too. What happens to my hand when it’s inside the glove ? It becomes invisible doesn't it. I know it’s in there; you know it’s in there but you can't see it. The Holy Spirit's like that -Invisible. In the reading we heard him described as being like the wind, well the wind's invisible but you can see it’s effects, like trees blowing about, washing blowing on a line. When the Holy Spirit works you can see the effects even though you can't see him in the same way you can see the effects if you move fingers around in the glove even if you can’t see the actual fingers.. He's still real, like the person on the other end of the telephone line, invisible to you, but still real. The glove can't pick things up by itself, but when a hand is in it, it can. The Holy Spirit is a Helper who can help us to do things, or get things done that we cannot do ourselves. In John's gospel, chapter 14, we can read of how Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to the disciples as a helper or Counsellor.
If someone asks the way the glove can't show it on its own; but with that hand inside the glove it can point, it can be a guide both to God and in our understanding about God. That's how it happens, that's how the Holy Spirit can change lives, by being the one who is in us; invisible; a helper, counsellor, guide. Read John 14 w 15-17
Come Holy Spirit.