Summary: This is a sermon for the Day of Pentecost urging Christians to join together in heart and mind by faith in Christ to transform the world.
A Great Conspiracy
Sermon on Acts 2:1-21
Pentecost Sunday-Year B
June 4, 2006
Rev. J. Curtis Goforth, O.S.L.
“And suddenly from heaven there came a sound
like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the
entire house where they were sitting.”
In the past few months, you may have noticed, there has been a lot of hoopla over a number of books on the subject of religion. During Holy Week National Geographic published a book entitled The Gospel of Judas which claimed that the disciple who is most noted for betraying Jesus was actually not a bad guy, but a good guy. The central idea behind the publication of this “lost gospel” which was actually written in the fifth century A.D. was that there has been a great conspiracy in covering up the truth by the Church. The Church has conspired to hide the real facts in an effort to keep their vision of the Church dominant over the true vision that Jesus had for the Church.
But, I believe the fanfare over The Gospel of Judas has largely subsided. However, there is another book that has even been made into a movie with Tom Hanks in it called The DaVinci Code. You have doubtless heard about it. This book has been a best-seller for years now. But I want to remind you that this book is a work of fiction, that is, by its very nature it is not about history or faith, but about telling a fictitious story and selling as many copies as possible. The central claim of this novel is that there has been yet another conspiracy by the Church to cover up the real facts about Jesus’ vision for the early Church. Dan Brown, the writer, asserts that Jesus’ original teachings revealed that goddess worship was central to the teachings of Jesus and that he chose Mary Magdalene (not only as his bride) but as the person to be in charge of the Church after his death, not Peter—another great conspiracy.
I am not one to judge a book by its cover, and I am also not one who believes that Christians should boycott movies that have alternative views to that of the Church or burn books that have conflicting viewpoints to the Church’s in them. I believe that it is our duty to be well-informed of what is being said about us by the world, not to ignore or defame that which is not just like us and our ways of life.
I read The DaVinci Code, and it is a really good story, it was such a page-turner that I read it in the course of just one day. But there are countless glaring historical errors in it, not to mention the religious elements it gets wrong. Everybody loves a good conspiracy though. The story really pulls you in and it feels like you are one of the characters, running around Europe trying to evade people who want you dead for the fantastic knowledge you have that there is a great conspiracy that will show that everything the world has always thought is wrong! The plot can really leave you breathless.
I want you to do something with me this morning. I want you to breathe out and force all the air out of your lungs. Now take a deep breath in and let it out again. You may think that you have just engaged in a simple exercise of controlled breathing, but you have just launched a conspiracy. Literally, the word conspiracy means “to breathe together.” You can even hear the word Spirit in conspiracy, can’t you?
In the second chapter of the book of Acts that we heard this morning, Luke tells us the story of Pentecost, the festival day we celebrate that brings to a close the season of Easter in the Church’s calendar, where we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit. If you remember back to our readings last week, they told of Christ’s ascension. Before he “ascended into heaven and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty” as the creed speaks, Jesus left his disciples with the charge to stay in Jerusalem until they were clothed with power from on high. Today, during Pentecost, the early Church received those glorious and powerful garments, what we might call, the gift of the Holy Spirit.
This was quite a scene according to Luke, they were all in a room, a gathering not much larger than we are here today, when a great breath from God filled the room. Both the Hebrew and Greek words that mean “wind” can equally be translated as “breath, wind, or spirit.” And, when this happened the room was on fire with this strange, new power. The followers of Jesus began speaking in languages they didn’t know, but all the people who had gathered to see what was going on heard the good news in their own language.