Summary: Sermon for Trinity Sunday on the Holy Spirit
LEADING US ALL THE WAY HOME
MAY 26, 2013
FARM HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH, HARRISBURG, AR
INTRO. In C.S. Lewis’ “The Chronicles of Narnia”, the young girl Jill approaches a stream. She has had nothing to drink for quite some time and is very thirsty. There is only one problem - standing next to the stream is a gigantic lion. “Are you not thirsty?” said the lion. “I’m dying of thirst,” said Jill. “Then drink,” said the lion. “May I - could I - would you mind going away while I do?” said Jill. The lion answered this only by a look and very low growl. As Jill gazed at its motionless bulk, she realized that she might as well have asked the whole mountain to move aside for her convenience. The delicious rippling noise of the stream was driving her nearly frantic. “Will you promise not to - do anything to me, if I do come?” said Jill. “I make no such promise,” said the lion. Jill was so thirsty now that, without noticing it, she had come a step nearer the lion. “Do you eat girls?” she said. “I have swallowed up, consumed girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms,” said the lion. It didn’t say this as if it were boasting, nor as if it were sorry, nor as if it were angry. It just said it. “I dare not come and drink,” said Jill. “Then you will die of thirst,” said the Lion. “Oh dear!” said Jill, coming another step nearer. “I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.” The lion said, “There is no other stream (lost citation)”.
Doesn’t the stream stir up a lot of fear? What will the lion do to me if I bend over to get a drink? What if I fall in and drown? That seems to be the way a lot of people are, even in the church today, when we hear talk about the Holy Spirit. Perhaps we associate him with some of those noisy churches - speaking in tongues, whooping and hollering, thank you Jesus! Worse yet, we hear about things like control and worry about what it will mean if we allow this third person of the Trinity, God himself, to have such an influence over our lives. What about our future, our hopes, our dreams? Doesn’t the control of the Spirit mean a life of poverty, of looking different, talking different, being weird, odd, misunderstood? Why is this even necessary? Jesus, here in John 16, tells the disciples, that he must leave if the Spirit is to come in his fullness and be the voice and presence of God in our lives. What is the Holy Spirit supposed to do?
I. PROVE THE WORLD WRONG (8-11). In today’s environment, that’s not too hard to do, is it? When we are honest, we have to admit there is a lot wrong with this world of ours! The 19th century poet Arthur Hugh Clough put it this way (quoted in A Hunger for God, Everett Leadingham, 53):
This world is very odd we see,
We can’t comprehend it;
But in one fact we all agree,
God won’t, and we can’t, mend it.
We look at the economy and have a whole host of worries - staying employed, keeping up with debt, having enough to retire on or to be able to handle that unexpected rainy day. We look at our country and see how broken our politics are, how mistrustful politicians and government officials are of each other, of how laws seem to make no sense and regulations just pile on more and more trouble. We look at our society and see how polarized we are, of how we divide ourselves by race, color, language, income, education, on and on and on. We sure can’t mend it, but is God up to the task? What exactly does he prove wrong about the world, and does he about it when he does prove the world wrong?
A. The world is wrong about sin. Why is the world wrong about sin? Jesus says here in John 16:9 that the world is wrong “because they do not believe in me.” In one sense, the story of the Bible is the story of how wrong the world is about sin! From the beginning of life and tragedy in the Garden of Eden in Genesis to judgment before the throne of God in Revelation, sin makes a mess of the world! This week in my Bible reading, the plan I follow has taken me into Ezekiel. Part of chapter 3 (19; 21) reads, “If you warn the wicked, and they do not turn from their wickedness, or from their wicked way, they shall die for their iniquity... If, however, you warn the righteous not to sin, and they do not sin, they shall surely live, because they took warning.” Ever since the Creation, we have had to choose between right and wrong, and the story of our world is of way too many times that wrong is chosen. Instead of hearing the voice of God and acting upon the words of God, we charge headlong down the opposite path. I may have mentioned to you that, years ago in Cincinnati, Carol and I owned (or were owned by) two cats at one point. Snowball and Boots were their names. Snowball stayed inside all the time, but Boots went out during the day and stayed inside at night. One time, we temporarily took in a kitten that we named Bootsie. He would eat and sleep and pester Snowball during the day, but she didn’t want to have anything to do with him. At supper, Boots would come in from a hard day of doing whatever it is that cats do outside, ready to eat and go to sleep, but Bootsie was charged up and ready to play! He would come racing across the floor and pile into Boots. Boots would smack him around a bit and let him up. After a few times of this, Boots would have enough and start seriously chewing on Bootsie some way until he cried and we had to break it up, but he never seemed to learn! That’s the way we are way too often - we mess up, we get beat down, we get up to mess it up again. But the Holy Spirit is here to say, “Let’s do things a different way, a better way, God’s way!”