“Gettin’ In the Spirit of Things” June 9, 2019
“Gettin’ In the Spirit of Things”
Psalm 104:24-34, 35b
Acts 2:1-21/ Romans 8:14-17
John 14:8-17, (25-27)
There’s something I’ve been noticing lately that, well…I don’t know what to think about it, to be honest. And so, I’d like to bounce it off of your folks, if I could. What I’ve noticed is that the standard greeting of “How are you?” has been changed somehow and for the life of me, I don’t understand why; and I think I want it back. I like “How are you?” I like “How you doing, how’ve you been.” They’re non-specific questions that can be answered with non-specific answers, and society has been fine with that. I mean, you can be having the worst day of your life, but when the cashier at BiMart asks, “How’s it going?” you can answer, “Fine, just fine,” and that’s perfectly acceptable. But that seems to be changing. I first noticed this new way of greeting at Dutch Bros coffee. I had pulled up and ordered my usual concoction –just minding my own business – when out of the blue, a young man leaned out the window and asked, “So, what have you got going on today?” I wasn’t expecting that; he caught me totally off guard. What have I got going on today? Well gee, let me think…nothing, a million things; I don’t know, I’ll know better after I’ve had my coffee – how’s that? The thing is, by asking for specifics I was being asked to engage. By asking for specifics, I was put in that somewhat awkward position of having to decide just how much of my personal stuff I want to share with this perfect stranger. “How’s it going?” was so much easier.
So I’ve done my research and found that this is a thing in most all the coffee shops in the area, not just Dutch Bros. It’s a thing and I guess I can live with that; it’s just something that coffee shops do. At least that’s what I thought. But last week I found that this “thing” has spread. I was at the Doctor’s office for a routine check-up. The nurse had taken me on the “walk of shame” to the scales, poked a thermometer in my ear, cuffed my wrist for a BP reading, and all the other poking and prodding that is involved. We were discussing medications and the normal stuff when, from out of the blue, she asked, “So, do you have any plans for the weekend?” At this point, I’d had enough. I figured that I would tell her that I was a pastor and that I planned on preaching this weekend, particularly on Sunday. I’ve found that telling folks that you are a preacher is usually a good way to stop a conversation dead in its tracks. But she surprised me again. She surprised me when she said, “O yea, that’s right. I forgot. So, what’s your sermon about?” Well now, what could I say? What could I say except that this Sunday is a special Sunday – it’s Pentecost Sunday. It’s the end of the Easter season. It’s the Sunday that we celebrate a promise that Jesus made to those who seek to be disciples of Christ: a promise that he won’t leave us alone, that he will leave us a companion, an advocate, a helper. It’s the day we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit, which was the fulfillment of this promise. And the power of the Spirit came to the disciples like a wall of fire.
But is that what the sermon is about? Is that it? Not really. This is just information that we’ve read in the book of Acts. No, what the sermon is about – what it should be about – is how does the power of the Spirit work in our lives today, right here, right now? What part does this advocate, this helper, play in our day to day living? At least, that’s what I told the nurse who was asking me to breathe so my oxygen level would come up. But you know, here’s where things get tricky. It gets tricky because we are not the type of folks who are likely to roll on the floor and speak in tongues. Our help comes from the redeeming love of Christ; our help comes from the hope of eternal life. You might even say that the power of the Spirit that came to Peter and the apostles, even though it is an incredible story, doesn’t have much of an impact on us today. But let’s think this one through because I have a feeling that we’re already in the Spirit of things. We just may not recognize it.
When Peter and the disciples found themselves gathered in Jerusalem for the festival of Pentecost they had a lot on their minds. They were wondering what to do next: could they go back to their old jobs, would their families and friends welcome them back or would they have to hide from persecution for years to come? There was a lot of doubt, a lot of uncertainty. But from the moment that they were filled with the Holy Spirit their mission and their purpose was plain as day. And that Spirit stayed with them. It helped get them through the persecution and downright abuse that was thrown at them when they preached the good news of Jesus Christ.
So yes, the power of the Spirit is real, even if it doesn’t come with fireworks. The Spirit is our companion. It is there to comfort us when it seems the world has kicked us to the curb. The Spirit is our advocate. It backs us up when we have lost our support; when all the things we lean on have disappeared. The Spirit is our counselor. It lifts us up when our doubts drag us down. And the Spirit is our helper. It doesn’t ask us, “How’s it going?” Instead, it blows in like a firestorm and gives us the power and the drive to make things better. The gift of the Holy Spirit – it gives us the power and the drive and the purpose.
Getting in the Spirit of things – living in the Spirit – that’s what the sermon is about. And for this wonderful gift, let us give thanks to our God.
Amen & Shalom