Summary: Many of us have had hunger pangs to return the community that Covid 19 took from us. This sermon focuses on the aspects of community, the birth of the Church, the Great Commission and How the Holy Spirit empowers us. Today we will focus on barriers, baptism and breaking out.
A NEW BEGINNING
Text: Acts 2:1 - 11, 17 - 21
Act 2:1-11 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. (2) 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. (3) Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. (4) All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. (5) Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. (6) And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. (7) Amazed and astonished, they asked, "Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? (8) And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? (9) Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, (10) Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, (11) Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God's deeds of power." …… Act 2:17 'In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. 18 Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. 19 And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. 20 The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord's great and glorious day.
21 Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.'
It was 1979 when Wayne United Methodist Church was holding their Wednesday night choir practice they had an unexpected visitor. He had heard the music outside the church so he opened the door, walked in and went to the altar rail to pray. Someone from the choir approached him and asked if they could help him. That is when they noticed that he didn’t speak the same language. There was another choir member who recognized that he was speaking Spanish. So they contacted a local high school Spanish teacher who began to understand him. He was obviously from another country. He must have had hunger pangs to connect with a community which was why he entered that church to pray. We came to find out that his name was Andreas. He not only found community, but was given a place to live and a job until he was able to get on his feet.
How does all this relate to the Pentecost story? Another one of the lectionary texts (Romans 8:22 - 27) seems to answer that question. The Romans text talks about hunger pangs for community. Many of us have had hunger pangs to return the community that Covid 19 took from us.
Today we will focus on barriers, baptism and breaking out.
What do you think of when you hear the word barrier? Do you think of a wall, a fence, a boundary or an obstruction?
1) Cause: What caused the barriers in the first place? What caused our barrier between us and God? We don’t get out of the third chapter of Genesis before we understand that sin was the reason.
2) Obstruction: Sin was an obstruction for Adam and Eve. In Genesis 7 God hit the restart button and spared Noah and his family in the flood. Then in Genesis 11 mankind started trying to make a name for itself seeking in building the Tower of Babel. So God scattered people all over the earth and confounded their language.
Does the spirit of Babylon create problems for our world?
1) Kingdoms in conflict: We have two kingdoms that are in conflict with each other---- the world versus the Church.
2) New age: How would you like to have your cake and eat it to? Isn’t that the same thing as have it both ways? “The New Age offers a Christless Christianity, “blessings without any commitment, spirituality that is self centered rather God centered”. As someone has said “According to the New Age all that matters is what rings your bell”. (Russell F. Anderson. Lectionary Preaching Workbook. Lima, Ohio: CSS Publishing, Inc. 2008, p. 234). How can a branch cut from its vine live (John 15:5)?
3) Homesick: How many are there in the world today who live life as if there is no afterlife? How many of them realize that they are spiritually hungry and yet starving to death? Isaiah 55:2 asks this question: “Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? (NRSV). How can feeding on the things of the flesh satisfy the need of a spiritual hunger? If they are miserable because they are homesick, then how can the things of this world satisfy them if this world was not meant to be their home?