Sermon - 5/20/18
2018.05.22 21:52:45

PENTECOST/B (2018): Ezek. 37:1-14; Acts 2:1-21; John 15:26-27, 16:4b-15. 


Sorrow,       “But now I am going to him who sent me; yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts… Nevertheless… it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you” (vv. 5-7).


The Apostles know Jesus, or so they believe. Now Jesus tells them that he is going away, and curiously they do not ask where.  It is characteristic of men that we are loath to give up what we know for an unknown; “a bird in the hand” if you will.


The Apostles here remind us of Mary Magdalene clinging to Jesus not yet ascended to the Father. They sorrow that Jesus will soon “be parted” from them.  He is going to the cross about which he would soon offer Eucharistic prayer (Jn. 17).


Even as the Apostles were participating in the new worship and fellowship of God being instituted among them, they do not grasp Jesus’ promise to send the Comforter, the Paraclete, the Helper, the Counselor; nor will they fully understand until fifty-three days later, the Day of Pentecost.


For now, despite Jesus’ words of comfort, they sorrow. It must have sounded a lot like Jesus withdrawing from their communion and offering a consolation prize, a second best replacement for his presence.  


How could they think otherwise at that moment? Since the Fall, man has inherited Eve’s sorrowful curse of God stepping back; “To the woman he said, ‘I will surely multiply your distresses [sorrows] in childbearing” (Gen. 3:16a).  How terrible a punishment for the woman; to know that having entered in league with Satan, she who was created for bringing about life, is instead the cause of her progeny’s demise.  Eve’s multiplied sorrow translates well as, “bearing children in pain”. 


Despite Eve’s resistance to her husband’s office, and his own chastisement, Adam prophetically extended pastoral comfort to his wife, naming her in the midst of sorrow and pain, sin and death; she would be, “Eve—mother of all living” (3:20).


We find in the various heroines of Scripture, the daughters of Eve, portrait aspects of the Church, outside of which there is no life; for apart from Christ, the Word with his church, men are aught than a heap of dissected, disinterred, very dried bones (Ezek. 37).


Still one cannot help recalling Eve’s sorrow inhering in all women on account of sin; “A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more” (Jer. 31:15; Mt. 2:18). 


Today we fast forward from the first Maundy Thursday to commence the church’s Triduum, our NT worship of the Father in the crucified, resurrected, and ascended flesh of Christ. It is now the Day of Pentecost.  You will recall two Sundays ago we heard about “Gentile Pentecost” (Acts 10) of God pouring out the Holy Spirit onto the Centurion Cornelius’ family. 


Confronted with heaven’s testimony of Baptism of the HS, Peter was compelled to no longer deny uncircumcised Gentiles co-equality in the life of the church direct Gentiles also be baptized into the church’s communion by water and word.


Today we celebrate what is the first Pentecost, or “Jewish Pentecost” that concludes our season of the Resurrection. On this first Pentecost the Father again witnessed to the glory of his Son’s name by pouring out his Spirit upon the NT disciples in Jerusalem of which Peter preached the witness to the Jews. 


Many in Jerusalem believed and at Peter’s direction were baptized for forgiveness and gift of the HS (2:38); still others continued to reject God’s testimony of his Son’s name, “God and Lord”, present with the body of Christ, the betrothed, new Israel, now withdrawn from the OT stone temple.


If the Apostles in the upper room on Maundy Thursday were saddened at Jesus’ impending “parting” and Passion; then now on Pentecost the Father testimony to his Son manifests the full revelation of God’s love as the HS processed into the church (about 120 at the time). 


On this day our eyes are opened to the truth of the church’s creed encapsulated in the OT Shema, “Hear, O Israel (this now includes the whole house of dry bones, Jew and Gentile, baptized into the life giving word and flesh of the resurrected Christ): The Lord our God is one” (Deut. 6:4). 


By the consensual sin of Adam and Eve, Satan gained a foothold in God’s good earthly creation. Satan fouled and corrupted man’s place in the Garden, audaciously declaring himself, “Prince of the World”; his ensign planted in dying terrain.  But God, in the incarnation, nativity, and passion of his only Son began in earnest the final reversal of death’s grave legacy.  On the cross God’s heart toward men and Satan’s hatred of God is at once revealed. 


Man’s fall and death was never the prize; rather Satan’s goal was always theft from God of his beloved mankind in heaven’s warfare among, dominions, powers, authorities, principalities, angels, and archangels and so ultimately to achieve the overthrow and death of God. At the cross Satan’s murderous heart was revealed among the chorus of those mocking Jesus, “He trusts in God” (Mt. 24:43).  Satan’s appeared to hold the victory, a “fait accompli”.  Of the devils, we may say about their knowledge of God, “they hardly knew Ye.”


Eternal life consists in this, “that [we] know the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom [he] sent” (Jn. 17:3).  By grace, God has completely given himself over to men for new life as a new creation, to join him “en arche, in beginning” (1:1), the Trinity’s place of council and conversation in eternity’s Word and reign. 


On the cross, in the resurrection, and the ascension of humanity in the man Jesus Christ to the throne of God we by the guidance of the HS know God to be the God who kills and makes alive, who wounds and heals, whom none can deliver out of his hand (Deut. 32:39; 1 Sam. 2:6).


God is one. In unity of Persons he is Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier who makes his union with men by the woman delivered to his beloved Son.  Jesus, with the woman, is known in truth; he is “Love” as Love does, for all who believe the name of the Son (Jn. 17:11b). 


Children are “begotten” by fathers and “born” of women. By the ordinance of Christ we are baptized into his death and resurrection, “begotten from above” (3:3, 7) and so “birthed” out of the NT woman, the “mother of all living” in water and word.  We are children of Life who join the eternal conversation of Father with the Son by the power of the HS. 


In the upper room Jesus comforted his Apostles, saying about his sending the HS, “your sorrow will turn into Joy” (16:20c).  We are participants by his word and Sacrament in an ongoing knowledge of God.  Our hearts are made in concord with font of eternal life, the living water of Father’s love through the Son from whom the Spirit processes for the church into the world (7:37-39).  Amen. 





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