Saturday, June 03, 2006

Pentecost Sermon--June 4

Acts 2: 1-21
Ezekial 37: 1-14

The beginnings of something new are also the revival of something old and gone.

We celebrate the arrival and participation of the Spirit in the sacrament of baptism—recognizing that as the prophet Joel says, I will pour out my Spirit upon you.

We celebrate the outpouring of the Spirit of Wisdom/ the Wisdom that is present at Creation according to the book of Proverbs—this Wisdom that is heard and inspires the writing—and study—of our Holy Scriptures.

What we call Pentecost is also a revival of something lost—Lost life, lost inspiration. The valley of dry bones was a metaphor by God through the prophet Ezekial. It was a word-painting of a people who had been captured, scattered, and destroyed by the Babylonians. But God tells Israel that it will be lifted up. It would rise from the ashes like a Phoenix from the fire.

Jesus is himself a personification of this Israel. He rises from the grave and in so doing give us hope again that God will not forsake God’s people. Ezekial and Luke give us hope that what was lost is regained.

In the chapters following the dry bones, God gives Ezekial a blueprint for the Temple—in so doing God gives concrete evidence of God’s continuing presence even in the midst of slavery. You know someone is serious about something when they make a blueprint. I’ve been told that this church was reminded of it’s hope and vision by the use of a blueprint. The fellowship hall blueprint had hung in the pastor’s office for some years when some hopeful members of this congregation held it up for all to see—Let’s do this! We have the blueprint!
The Gospels preceding Acts tell of the blueprint of Christ—that blueprint of the body as God’s temple. Everything we know as Holy and Sacred we see in Christ—a human life as a blueprint for not just the Temple—but the whole Kingdom of God.

But Christ isn’t only the blueprint, he’s the building blocks—he refers to himself as that Cornerstone in Psalms—the one that the builders rejected! He becomes the building blocks not in physical mortar and stone, but in Spirit. We enter a new dimension of seeing when the Spirit of God enters us! We see a world of people enlightened like the flame of a lamp. We hear a world that understands each other despite cultural differences. The tongues of fire and the tongues of speech are united in the birth of the church—the Pentecost. The power (dynamis) of the Spirit is its real presence without even being visible to the human eye. It is visible to the eye of the Spirit. The eye of the heart that can be opened—according to Paul’s letter to the Ephesians that we read last week. They can be opened and see the reality of Christ as the cornerstone and the building blocks in the Spiritual reality of our lives.

………………This is why church isn’t just another social club—this is why our opportunity here is not to just eat spaghetti and collect money for cancer research. In those actions, The building blocks of the Spirit make the church even higher and more beautiful. The blueprint is in the life of Christ, and construction begins in the Acts of the apostles. Acts doesn’t end with a completed building. In fact, our Bible doesn’t even end with an ending—it ends with a beginning. The beginning of a New Jerusalem—one that Christ takes the scissors and cuts the ribbon on. If the New Jerusalem is a ship, then Christ breaks the bottle of champagne on the bow. Actually, this metaphor is perfect, since the practice of christening and launching a ship with a bottle of champagne traces its roots to the offering of a precious substance to the gods at a ship’s launch. It’s a tradition as old as the Babylonians. Christ is the bottle of champagne broken on the ship’s bow. And Christ offers his life as a sacrifice to our relationship with God. Showing us a life of purpose—a blueprint.
That blueprint is put into construction in the lives that are touched by Christ today in this body of believers. The Spiritual bricks of the kingdom are placed carefully by this church in our worship and our action. The Kingdom grows in the lives of discipleship and study with the presentation of God’s words to our growing family. It expands with the adoption of a new brother in Christ with the ritual of Baptism. It is restored and renovated in our own hearts as we come to the table of communion with forgiveness in our hearts. As that poem says on the front of your bulletin—Christ carves a hollow in our wooden hearts—one that is filled with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Pentecost is not only about something new. It’s not just a new army marching over the horizon and stomping bones underfoot. It is a resuscitation of that which has perished. It is not just a good bye party for a departed savior. It is a welcome wagon for the Spirit’s entry. Praise God! Praise God! In so doing we put our weight on the cornerstone that will never break! Praise the Master Builder, the Blueprint, and the Spiritual Stones and mortar. Let the Kingdom be built with our lives and our worship! Amen!


At 8:17 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! Excellent sermon and powerful images. Did you actually break a bottle of "bubbly" on the cornerstone of the church?


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