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Sunday, June 4, 2017
Pentecost, commonly called Whitsunday
Sermon – Reverend Jack Arnold - Time and Action
Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California
Once again the propers for this week come together very well, their focus is narrow, thus powerful.
Consider these words from the Collect:
… sending to them the light of thy Holy Spirit; Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort …
When Jesus left on Ascension Day, we lost a teacher here on earth. We still have Him as Redeemer and Savior; but what to do for understanding? In response to His departure, God sent us the Holy Ghost.
Who is this Holy Ghost and why is he here?
We worship the One True God, a triune God, that is Three in One; Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Most people have no trouble understanding the concept of God the Father, Christians seem to get God the Son, but many seem to have a bit of difficulty with the Holy Ghost.
The Holy Ghost has been there since the beginning. He breathed life into the world, yet His actions seemed to be sporadic until Pentecost.
Well, today is Pentecost, the time one normally thinks of the Holy Ghost, the Holy Spirit, the Breath of God, the Comforter. When people do think of Him, they oft think of the actions described in the words of Saint Luke in the Acts of the Apostles. The dancing and speaking in tongues. All that happened so we might understand that with the help of the Holy Ghost we might bring the Word to all mankind. The Word of God is a universal language. When the disciples spoke in tongues, the people around them heard the Word in their own language, not an odd combination of sounds that no one understood. The disciples spoke and were heard by those around them in their own language, not Klingon. It is not for us to speak in tongues without study; that was a one shot deal. It was designed to show us we could, with hard work and persistence bring the Gospel to the world in the language of the people. It showed we were in fact to preach the Gospel to all nations, not just the nation of Israel, but to all the nations of the World. The many nations of the fallen race of Adam all comprise those to whom the Good News is to be spread. Which is what the purpose of God sending the Holy Ghost was for, so we would understand it is for us to bring the light of Christ into the world for all to see and believe upon. He is here so we can understand and then act upon His Word. He is here to provide us with the guidance and understanding necessary to preach and spread the Word into the far regions of the Earth. The Holy Ghost allows us to spread His Word amongst all the people in the world and to convince them and let them believe. It opens our eyes to what is good for us and what is not good for us, so that we know what to believe and what not to believe.
We need the Holy Ghost if we are to follow the Great Commission Christ set forth. He knew we would need the Holy Ghost if we were to have any success in this endeavor. However, He also knew that He needed to leave if the Holy Ghost were to come and stay, so the Holy Ghost’s coming had to wait until after the Ascension. He had it planned out so the disciples would not be without a direct connection to Him for very long.
The Holy Ghost also helps us to give the “righteous judgment” the Collect speaks of. This judgment is not the same as the final judgment that God judges us on our performance, but it is a judgment based on Scriptural values that with the Holy Ghosts help, we can make on our lives and others lives, based on how we see it through the lens of the Holy Ghost and Scripture. It is not to insult people but to be truthful through the standpoint of Scriptures and be able to say that certain behaviors do not line up with Scripture, i.e. homosexuality and abortion. To say that those behaviors are not Christian is a righteous judgment statement the Holy Ghost helps us determine.
The Holy Ghost is also our direct connection to God. When Jesus left, the disciples were distant from God. When they were not near Jesus, they did not do as well as when they were with Him. As with the righteous judgement, the Holy Ghost helps us to align our actions and views with that of Scripture. The Holy Ghost helps us to properly understand and apply Scriptural principles in our own lives. See Peter’s actions after the arrest of Jesus for an example, thrice denying His Lord. The Holy Ghost came so that we would have understanding and a direct connection to God, wireless as it were, instead of having to be tethered to Christ. It is how He will always be with us, even though He is not physically with us at the present time. We will never have to fear anything as long as He is with us, for if He is with us, who should we be afraid of, if we are on His side?
If we allow the Holy Ghost into our hearts, we will never be far from Him, and He will never be far from us. We have to consciously let Him into our hearts, He will not come uninvited into our hearts. The Holy Ghost helps us understand Scripture and gives us guidance on our earthly lives, as we work towards staying on the straight and narrow path towards heaven He will be a constant guiding presence in our lives, that will give us peace in times of trouble, and will help us guide and focus our minds in our worship of God. He will give us inspiration and help us to do what is right for our fellow Christians and friends, while staying true to God. He will light our paths in difficult times and trials and will give us the guidance we need to finish our race for God.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us that He would be leaving, but the Father would send a facilitator; one who whose presence, if we let Him into our hearts, would let us understand His Word with those self-same hearts. The Comforter would bring the Love of God into our hearts to let us feel His Love. He will help us understand that we are striving to be one with God, with Jesus and with the Holy Ghost. Our love can be demonstrated by our actions. Jesus points out those who do not truly love Him will not keep His Commandments. However, if we truly do love him, He points out we will act for Him and by doing so will keep his commandments. Which are only possible if we allow the Holy Ghost into our hearts and believe and ACT upon our faith! This is a point that is made time and time again in Scriptures. We need to be doers of the world, not just hearers, to paraphrase St. James. For if we love Jesus, we will do as He asked.
If you think about it, you will recall the second half of the Book of Luke is titled The Acts of the Apostles. It is not the thoughts, the beliefs, the feelings, the meditations, the inner feelings or any other touchy feely thing, it is the ACTS. If you believe, act on those beliefs. The Holy Ghost is here to help us know how to act, we will just have to let Him into our hearts, and then ACT.
We need the help of the Holy Ghost to learn what we are to do, how we are to do it and most of all to do it. Action, not just diction.
Pray for His continual presence in your heart.
Heaven is at the end of an uphill trail. The easy downhill trail does not lead to the summit.
The time is now, not tomorrow. The time has come, indeed. How will you ACT?
It is by our actions we are known.
Be of God - Live of God - Act of God