Summary: The Holy Spirit of God fills us up with the divine will and sends us into the world that we may be agents of God's life and healing love.
May 31, 2020
Rev. Mary Erickson
Hope Lutheran Church
Ever Opened and Made New
Friends, may grace and peace be yours in abundance in the knowledge of God and Christ Jesus our Lord.
Pray with me: Breathe on me, Breath of God! Fill me with life anew. That I may love as Thou hast loved, and do as Thou wouldst do. Amen.
The disciples were sequestered in their upper room. They were closed up, holed up, shut up, locked up, sealed up. Perhaps they were feeling a little broken up, or fed up. Or maybe even a little pent up.
For ten days they’d been waiting. Waiting in Jerusalem, just as Jesus had instructed them. And then on that tenth day, there they were, all rounded up in that room. And in came the Holy Spirit.
How did it get in? How did that Spirit get in through their bolted up and triple barricaded upper room? They were in their safe house! They were sheltered in place! How did that Holy Spirit manage to enter in?
It came as a sound, like the rush of a violent wind. The howling and the roar filled the entire place where they were hiding. And then came the fire. A holy fire. Individual flames, like little tongues. The flames were everywhere. They rested on top of each and every one of the disciples.
And then that great rush of wind filled them up, filled them up and overflowing with the Holy Spirit of God! Those little tongues of holy fire seemed to loosen up their tongues. They began to speak, each one of them, in a foreign tongue. They spoke Egyptian and Phrygian! Suddenly these men of Galilee were uttering in Arabic and Greek and Cappadocian!
That Holy Spirit had broken into their closed-up existence. It had filled them up with its holy power, and now, it pushed them out. Like little fledgling birds in a nest, it pushed them out like a mother bird. Out into the streets of Jerusalem they poured. The power of the Spirit could not be contained by the confines of that tiny upper room. It had burst open their locked door, and out they went! Out into Jerusalem, out into the world.
What exactly had happened to those disciples? It was the same thing that had happened to Jesus 50 days earlier! The authorities had closed him up, too. They wound up his dead body in its grave clothes and put him up in that tomb. Then they rolled up a great, big stone in front of the tomb’s mouth. They thought him properly shut up inside the dark and damp hole, locked up forever.
But they weren’t counting on the Holy Spirit of God! For God will not tolerate closed up things! God opens up! God breaks open the fetters of the slaves. God opens the waters of the Red Sea. God opens up the rock in the desert so that water may pour forth. God declares, “Ephphatha! Be opened!” And the deaf can hear.
This is what the Holy Spirit of the Living God does! It opens up what is closed. It fills up that which is empty. It builds up the broken down and torn apart. The Spirit bears up the weak and forgotten. It draws up the lost and despised.
This Holy Spirit that enlivened the disciples now lives and breathes among us. That same Spirit bubbled up in the waters of our baptism! On that momentous day, each of us was baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And then we were prayed over. Hands were laid on us. The sign of the cross was made upon our brow. And the congregation prayed for the Holy Spirit to sustain us through all our days:
• the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
• the Spirit of counsel and might,
• the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord,
• the Spirit of joy in the Lord’s presence.
The Holy Spirit fills us up here and now. It now pushes us into the world. Now it endows us speak a word of commonality and understanding to a diverse and multi-racial world.
Parthians and Medes. Phrygian and Pamphylian. White skinned and dark skinned. In this last week, we’ve been all too aware of racial divides. A quick succession of hostile events on African American citizens has erupted.
• Two weeks ago, a video surfaced of the shooting death of a young African American man in Georgia, Amaud Arbery. While out on a run in February, Arbery was pursued and shot dead by two white men. Authorities had had possession of this video for months, but no arrests had been made until the video surfaced and went viral on media.