“How Do I Know……?”
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Posted by Elk Grove Presbyterian Church on Sunday, May 31, 2020
2 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
1 Corinthians 12:1-13
12 Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. 3 Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.
4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.
7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines
12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
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I like the image of the Holy Spirit…the many colors of red and yellow swirling around. Beauty and chaos all blended together. Hard to even describe the essence of just what is happening. The Holy Spirit has arrived with all of her power and mystery. I doubt the apostles and disciples were ready for this. Just a few days ago, Jesus ascended up into the clouds with a few of his people watching, they witnessed the visible presence of Jesus fading away. He is gone! But then they are remembering something he told them…those instructions to stay in Jerusalem, to not leave for in a few days they would be baptized by the Holy Spirit! We don’t know how these faithful followers responded to this message. Did they have any idea what this meant that they “would be baptized by the Holy Spirit!?” That the Holy Spirit would pour over them, that they would be immersed in this power from God!?
So now it is the day of Pentecost, a particular day, the 50th day after the Sabbath of Passover week. Many have gathered together, and this violent wind comes down from above, I’m imagining it might have felt something like standing in the middle of this image, a storm with the wind swirling around, but then there came these divided tongues of fire…touching each one of them and they know something has changed…something dramatic has happened to them for they now began speaking in different languages. I imagine it was quite unsettling, maybe a bit confusing. The Holy Spirit has descended upon the earth, the Holy Spirit has entered into the lives of the people and the world with never be the same, life will never go back to the way it was. A new thing has begun…the power of God is unleashed among the people.
People have been given gifts to use…all to further God’s kingdom. To fulfill the transforming work that Jesus began and will now continue to do through the power of the Holy Spirit working in individual lives.
As each person is discovering what gift he or she has been given…something must have happened. Paul must have seen something that concerned him, something that he needed to clarify with these Spirit-filled people. As the Spirit moves people into action using their gifts, Paul reminds them that the Spirit is an affirmation that Jesus is Lord of their lives and no one can talk of the Spirit who is not connected to the living Christ. He tells them they are all members of one body, they are not individuals celebrating this special gift they have…all one together in Christ. They are to use their gift for the common good, to be used together with everyone else’s gifts so that God’s people would thrive and truly be part of the movement to bring God’s kingdom here on earth. Paul uses another analogy of this concept of one body just a few verses further down in 1 Corinthians. He uses the example of body parts. Explaining that the body needs feet to walk, eyes to see and ears to hear. All parts are needed to create the whole body. And so, we need all of us working together.
All of us need each other to make ourselves truly whole…whole as one body of Christ! Now for you and me right now, right here at this point in our lives you might be wondering how this applies to you. How is the Spirit working in your life? Or maybe how do I know when the Spirit is prompting me to do something or how can I detect the movement of the Holy Spirit in my own life? Paul helps us as he helped those in Corinth…we have to ask ourselves, is what we are doing in line with our belief that Jesus is our Lord? Do our lives reveal that Jesus is our Lord? Are our actions attributing to the common body? All of us together? Now certainly there are times when the Spirit intercedes for us, comforts us in a personal way but the Spirts also corrects us, prompts us into action and convicts us of wrongdoing all working toward the betterment of the whole.
This past week our bodies have been wounded. For as one of us suffers, for as one of us endures the atrocities of racism, bigotry, inhuman treatment, we all suffer. You might think what happened in Minneapolis has nothing to do with us or you and me…you are gravely wrong, we are gravely wrong. The body of Christ is suffering right now! The body of Christ has been suffering for generations. Our bodies are infected with the disease of racism…we are sick.
The Holy Spirit is calling us into action. The Holy Spirit instills in our hearts that our brothers and sisters are suffering, and we must not let an arm, a leg, a head, a heart, an eye, an ear…or any part of the body to be damaged or destroyed. For the Spirit in us is part of the solution to the suffering. The Holy Spirit instills in us a conviction that something must change. My friends we stand at the crossroads today more than ever, that of a calling to listen to the Holy Spirit to find a path to support and honor the common good for all humanity. Come Holy Spirit Come!