June 4, 2017
The Day of Pentecost
Numbers 11:24-30; Acts 2:1-21; John 20:19-23
Pr. Craig Mueller
If you want to hear people cheer and yell and get excited, go to a sports event. I remember a particular cheer from high school football. In case you’re wondering, I didn’t play football! I played mean trumpet in the pep band. Whenever the team hit a dry spot or the crowd seemed disengaged, out came this cheer:
We’ve got spirit, yes we do.
We’ve got spirit, how ‘bout you?
Today we celebrate the Holy
Spirit poured out on the disciples at Pentecost. And five young adults in our
congregation affirm their baptism. They were all baptized at Holy Trinity. This
is the only congregation they have ever known.
You could say that every human being has some divine spirit in them. Not just us in church, but all people—people of every color and creed. Yet at baptism we say the Holy Spirit is poured out in a special way—is put on us. Like God taking some of the divine spirit from Moses and putting it on the seventy elders. They get some spirit for a purpose: to prophesy. At Confirmation we pray that this spirit will be stirred up in these five that may continue to grow in faith and service.
These five confirmands have spirit, that’s for sure. Throughout their lives they have received the Holy Spirit, the spirit of baptismal grace, and the spirit of Holy Trinity church. And now, as young adults, they witness to us. They give us spirit—as some of their faith, passion, and energy rubs off on us. In the faith statements that they wrote this month, all of them spoke of the role Holy Trinity has played in their lives and you’ll hear their voices in this sermon.
Christians sense that spirit most fully in Jesus, and we believe that at Pentecost the spirit of Jesus is unleashed in all the world. Yet it begins with life in community.
Molly Moran: Holy Trinity has always been there for my family and me through our ups and downs. This community has always made the hard times easier and good times even better
In Acts there is a mighty wind, fire and tongues. When the people get the spirit, a diversity of languages is heard. Yet they all hear and understand the gospel in their own language. This spirit unites people from every race and nation. Pentecost is all about diversity—something they have learned about in this community.
Grant Peterson: At the heart of all convictions and beliefs in the Lutheran church is the fact that grace is God’s unconditional welcome to all. What I have most taken away from Holy Trinity is that we accept all people not matter the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, who they choose to love or marry, who they vote for, and how they feel about religion.
Pentecost pushes the boundaries. Getting this spirit stirs things up. And gives us the gift of “the other.” Something and someone beyond ourselves. Not only are we sent to serve and be signs of the Spirit in the world, we also treasure the different gifts and perspectives that new people bring to our community.
Megan Moran: I think that Holy Trinity is really big on recruiting new members because we don’t want to be the same people sharing the same ideas every single week. By welcoming new people we invite others to come from different places around Chicago who share different ideas.
If diversity is one value they have gained at Holy Trinity, so is doubt, believe it or not. Several of the students wrote about church being a safe place for doubts and admitting that we don’t have all the answers. That’s very different from my church upbringing! If faith is a mystery, then the Holy Spirit is sometimes revealed in what we do not know.
Cassie Moran: Confirmation has taught me that it is okay to have doubts. In some branches of Christianity everything is black and white, while at Holy Trinity I feel as I get to choose what to believe. I would rather be guided in faith, rather than someone tell me the “answers” because there are no actual answers.
Peder talks about the mystery of faith that doesn’t make sense to our logical brains. He took a survey and found that, of his fellow students, 60% are atheists and only 40% believe in a God. Wow! What it must be like at such a young age to have your faith come up against those who think there is a conflict between religion and science, and how stupid it is to believe in a bearded man in the sky, as some kids say. And at the same time to notice some Christians who spew hateful words, such as those who protest at the pride parade.
Peder Sevig: Though coming back to church every week can be annoying at times, every time I feel like all the faith I’ve lost that week has been restored. Though it sometimes feels like the outside world is turned against us, I still choose to believe in God. I could say that I believe in God because God is there when I’m in trouble or in doubt, and it gives me hope to spread the good news and make a difference in the world.
As the Father, sent me, so I send you, Jesus says in today’s gospel. All the students talked about the way the church takes stands for our beliefs. Part of our mission, I would add. They have marched for Black Lives Matter, participated in the Crop Walk and the recent women’s march in January, and served a meal to homeless neighbors at our South Loop campus.
What a delight for Pastor Sevig and me to be at the baptism of all five of these young adults and to see their faith grow and mature. To see that the Spirit has stuck to them. When many people wonder if there is hope for the future of the church, we want to cheer: We’ve got spirt, yes we do! Look at this Spirit in these five, the Spirit in this place, and the Spirit you take with you into your daily lives. Thanks be to God!