PRAYER: Come Holy Spirit come, and fill our lives with the message and mission of Pentecost. Amen.
Most of you know that Pentecost is one of my favorite times of the church year. I love to see the Red Paraments adorn our sanctury. The balloons and banners help to highlight the presence of the Holy Spirit in our worship and throughout our lives. And, I always look forward to the Rite of Confirmation, a culmination of the last two years of the spirit filled journey of our teens and mentors. It is truly a time of joyous celebration.
Pentecost is the day that we celebrate the birthday of the Christen Church. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit, made evident by the tongues of flame and rushing wind, creates a community of believers empowered to share the Good News of Jesus with the world. Pentecost is the anniversary of a time when the disciples went forward and preached and Jews from all over the world, gathered in Jerusalem for a great party and when they heard the disciples preaching in their own language, many came to believe that Jesus was and is God’s chosen Messiah. Amid our festive red and white, we celebrate the coming of the Spirit and the Birthday of the church.
The Confirmation journey at Christ Church is designed around a journey of transformation it is a walk that claims confirmation is a repeatable rite of the church; that there are multiple times in a person’s life in which they would like to re-affirm their faith. In other words, the laying on of hands, inviting the Spirit into our hearts does not happen once, but can occur over and over again along our spiritual journeys. These are the moments when we find ourselves back at the font of life. Therefore we shouldn’t be surprised that the Season of Pentecost is never over!
A Pastor friend of mine once shared a memory he holds dear from his own confirmation. “I will always remember what was shared during the sermon” He continued, the Pastor offered: ‘Remember the Pentecost message is really about maintaining our connections to our brothers and sisters from the churches of the past while nurturing our relationship within our current family of God.’” His point, the church is connected by the generations which preceded it as well as those which will continue its mission well into the future.
Listen to the words of a hymn from our New Century Hymnal, God, When I Came into this Life
God, when I came into this life, you called me by name;
Today I come, commit myself, responding to your claim.
You give me freedom to believe; today I make my choice,
And to the worship of the church I add my learning voice.
Within the circle of the faith, as member of your cast, I
Take my place with all the saints of the future, present, past.
In all the tensions of my life, between my faith and doubt, let Your great Spirit give me hope, sustain me, lead me out
So help me in my unbelief and let my life be true; Feet firmly planted on the earth, my sights set high on you.
The confirmation journey of our teens and mentors have been scrolling the screen since our time together today. I’m sure you have been touched by the physical transformation of our confirmands over the years. Perhaps you have been blessed by reading their statement of faith, at this point along their journey.
The author of the hymn we just heard, talks about owning what we believe today in order to recognize the impact of those who have gone before us, and those who continue to travel with us on our journeys. But the composer also talks about accepting our place among all God’s people. Listen to some of what our teens, who are to be confirmed claim they believe.
I believe that Jesus is always there with us in any situation.
Holding grudges on others is not Christian-like and we should forgive the sins of others who have sinned against us. Forgiveness is not always easy, but it is possible with the help of God.
We believe that God is the loving creator of all things that we know in life. God is present in all living beings. Through God’s eyes everyone is equal and through God’s love those struggling will find strength.
Jesus Christ is the head of the church, which is his body, composed of all, living and dead, who have been joined to him through saving faith.
I believe that no matter what happens, Jesus will always love me and everyone. I believe that the power of God is unlimited. I will look for the presence of God in every person. As a Christian, I will do my best to accept people as they are and to help others.
Our connections run deep with those from Christ Church’s past, and if we are sincere about being a Pentecost People, our outreach and relationships will continue to strengthen future generations at Christ Church.
Jesus has sent us the Spirit to advocate for Him in his absence. What does Jesus… the way he lived his life, his death, his resurrection… tell us about God? Through our Birthday celebrations of the Church we acknowledge that the breath of God is at work, here and now. Through scripture and prayer, music and proclamation, experience and relationship, in service and mission: God’s holy breath challenges us, comforts, clarifies, and even scares us at times.
Pentecost reassures us that God’s Spirit is still at work. Whether the original followers or the next generation of disciples, Christ’s mission continues in this world. What part will you play? As people of Pentecost, God invites us to experience the fullness of life intended for everyone. To breathe deeply, take in the Spirit, and be changed.
Fire, wind, and humble Galileans speaking persuasively in many tongues were dramatic signs that God was doing a new thing that would transform the lives of all those present and far beyond, in time and place. Maybe it was a little frightening, something people would want to explain away, or to contain with cynical comments that blamed it all on drunkenness. But this much is true, many lives were changed on that first Pentecost. God IS still speaking, how will this community of faith respond to God’s call and, empowered by the Holy Spirit, how will we live out such a covenant? Amen.