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Summary: The Birthday of the Church and the ways in which the Holy Spirit works within it and within us.

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Pentecost A STA 2014 5

 Happy Birthday Church.

o Pentecost is the day the Church celebrates its birthday

o The Holy Spirit descending upon the Apostles

o So they would be empowered to begin building the church instituted by Christ.

 Throughout the centuries and around the world Pentecost has been celebrated as a great feast of the church.

o In Italy, petals from red roses are often dropped upon the congregation from the ceiling symbolizing the tongues of fire coming upon the apostles.

o In France, it is customary to blow trumpets during mass to recall the sound of the mighty wind which accompanied the Descent of the Holy Spirit.

o In Russia, Christians carry flowers and green branches in their hands.

o In England, They celebrated with horse-racing – I have no idea of the significance of that.

o Regardless, around the world Pentecost is a HUGE celebration

 There is a church in our country that celebrates Pentecost by the ushers handing each person a bright red carnation as they enter church;

o the carnations symbolizing the festive spirit of the day.

o The people listened attentively to the reading of the Pentecost story from the Acts of the Apostles

o about how the disciples had heard “what sounded like a powerful wind from heaven”;

o about how the Holy Spirit had appeared “like tongues of fire.”

o Then came the sermon:

 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon us,” the preacher began. “Like the powerful wind from heaven!” shouted a woman sitting in the first pew. Then she threw one of the red carnations toward the altar.

 The preacher began again: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon us.” The same woman’s voce rang out again, “Like the tongues of fire, the tongues of fire!” Again, she threw a red carnation toward the altar.

 The preacher looked straight at her and said, “Now throw your purse.”

 To which the woman replied, “Preacher, you have just calmed the wind and put out the fire.”

 The Spirit of God is within us.

o How far are we willing to go;

o are we willing to go where the Spirit of God leads us?

o Probably “yes” at least most of the time.

 Look at how far the Spirit of God led a group of fishermen, a tax collector and a tent maker.

o Could they have traveled those miles,

o endured those hardship,

o suffered martyrdom

o and converted a whole world

o were it not for the Holy Spirit within them?

o How amazed were the people who heard them speak each in their own native tongue. The Holy Spirit has guided our church for two millennia enduring many trials, tribulation and stormy seas.

 The Holy Spirit guides us in our ordinary life and faith journey.

o It is the Holy Spirit that nudges us to pray, to go beyond our self-imposed limitations to do significant and sometimes great things for others.

o I’m willing to bet that each of you at one time or another has been faced with a situation or crisis where you found yourself as the one who had to do something and you did it.

o Later you were amazed at how you did it, where did the words come from – they were so right.

o Where did that idea of action come from – it was just what was needed.

o When we open our hearts to the working of the Holy Spirit we can become much more than we think we are.

 The Holy Spirit empowers us to witness Christ to the world, to continue the work of evangelization.

o Story: In the old Peanuts cartoon: Lucy says to Charlie Brown, "I would have made a great evangelist." Charlie Brown answers, "Is that so?" She says, "Yes, I convinced that boy in front of me in school that my religion is better than his religion." Charlie Brown asked, "Well, how did you do that?" And Lucy answers, "I hit him over the head with my lunch box."

o Well, that’s Lucy, not us. We don’t use a hammer to evangelize.

o We evangelize first by how we live our lives,

o How we share our faith confidently, not bombastically.

o When people observe that inner calm and confidence that our spirit filled faith demonstrates,

o at some point they’ll be inspired by what they see in us and want to experience it.

o That is the work of the Holy Spirit within us.

 The Holy Spirit works in wonderful ways: Story of

o Salvation Army Lt. Sherryle Morasky at Christmas time in 1994 at a Los Angeles Chain Store when she arrived to set up their kettle.

o The store allowed them to have their kettle out front but would not permit them to ring their bell to invite contributions.

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