Summary: A sermon about the power of the Holy Spirit to unite Christians in the Church.
Pentecost Day 2013
May 19, 2013
St. Andrew’s Church
The Rev. M. Anthony Seel, Jr.
“An Invisible Thread”
They lived just two blocks from each other, but they couldn’t be more different. He was 11 years old, with an abusive father, a drug-addicted mother, drug-dealing uncles, and a knife-wielding grandmother. She was a successful advertising executive.
They met on a street in Manhattan when he asked her for some spare change. He said he was really hungry and he had such sad eyes. This happened on 56th Street near Broadway.
She says, “when I heard his voice, I didn’t really hear him. His words were part of the clatter, like a car horn or someone yelling for a cab.” (An Invisible Thread, p. 1)
When she went back to him, she noticed, “he was just a boy… he was so young… he was a child – tiny body, sticks for arms, big round eyes.” pp. 1-2
“I am hungry,” he said. “If you’re hungry,” I said, “I’ll take you to McDonalds an buy you lunch.”
“Can I have a cheeseburger,” he asked. “Yes,” I said.
“How about a Big Mac?
“That’s okay, too.”
“How about a Diet Coke?”
“Well, how about a thick, chocolate shake and French Fries?”
I told him he could have anything he wanted. And then I asked him if I could join him for lunch. “Sure,” he finally said.
Laura Schroff says, “We had lunch together at McDonalds. And after that we got together every Monday. For the next 150 Mondays. His name was Maurice and he changed my life.
The Chinese have an ancient proverb that goes like this: An invisible thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, and circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but it will never break.
I believe in an invisible thread. Moreover, I believe that the invisible thread is a divine person – the Holy Spirit.
As surely as God brought Maurice and Laura together, He descended upon about 120 Christians on Pentecost Day in Jerusalem, roughly 2,000 years ago. Acts, chapter 1, tells us that the church numbered about 120 at this time. They were “all together” when a sound from heaven “filled the entire house where they were sitting.” This sound is described as like a “mighty rushing win.” Acts doesn’t say that it was a wind; it says that it sounded like “a mighty rushing win.”
Those inside the house saw what looked like tongues of fire, individual flames, alighting on each of them.
Wind and fire are common manifestations of an uncommon experience in ancient days – the presence of God. John the Baptist had proclaimed that One was coming who would baptize “with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Luke 3:16). Jesus had said, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you…” (Acts 1:8). Now, the Holy Spirit descended upon them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:4
The Holy Spirit filled the members of the First Church of Jerusalem and directed them to speak in foreign tongues. At the time, Jerusalem was filled with devout Jews who had come there from all over the world to celebrate the Feast of Weeks, one of the three great pilgrimage feasts of Israel.
v. 6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language.
Do you suppose that an invisible thread could make enough noise to attract the attention of a multitude of devout Jews in Jerusalem?
One of the threads that runs through An Invisible Thread by Laura Schroff and Alex Tresniowski is the power of family. Maurice came from a very unreliable family. Laura Schroff’s father was an alcoholic who was a very disruptive force in her family.
Laura befriended Maurice and brought some stability into his life that he couldn’t get from his family. Laura brought Maurice along at times when she visited her sister Annette and her family. Those times in Annette’s home taught Maurice the power of a good family.
A church our size is a family. The relationships that we form here can have a dramatic effect upon a person’s life. Maybe not as dramatic as Laura with Maurice, but dramatic nonetheless.
God has done some mighty works in our midst over the years and recently. Not only that, when we are filled with the Holy Spirit, there is no end to the good that we can do.
The Apostle Peter is empowered on Pentecost Day to preach and 3,000 souls were added to the church that day. A little later, Peter heals a lame beggar. In the power of the Holy Spirit, the Apostles did “many signs and wonders.” At about the same time, Peter and John taught at the temple about Jesus and about 5,000 believed.