Summary: The parable of the ballon illustrates what life in the Spirit is like, and remindes us why the Church was given the Holy Spirit
John 20:19-23 “The Breath of God”
Today is a once in a life time experience. Never before has Pentecost fallen on the same Sunday as Mother’s Day. The possibility of it happening again will not occur for well over one hundred years.
The gift of the Holy Spirit came during the Jewish Festival of Pentecost—a harvest festival. It is seen by historians and theologians as the birth of the church. This story is told in the book of Acts. Our text in John takes place on Easter Evening. The disciples are huddled in the upper room. Jesus appears to them, greets them, sends them out and gives them the Holy Spirit. Though the two stories of the gift of the Holy Spirit are different in time and experience, they do share central truths that help us understand how the Holy Spirit moves in our lives today.
The best illustration of the Spirit-filled life is seen in a blown up balloon. It is filled with air and when released rushes to and froe powered by that air.
FILLED AT BAPTISM
Before we know Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are like a limp balloon. We do not have the breath of new life in us.
As Lutheran Christians, we understand that we receive the Holy Spirit at the time of our baptism. We see our baptism as similar to Jesus’. When Jesus was baptized, he received the Holy Spirit and heard the voice of God claiming him as God’s son. The Spirit enters us at our baptism and is God’s presence in our lives.
By receiving the Holy Spirit at our baptism we have everything we need to live out the abundant life that God gives to us. We have the forgiveness of sins. We are adopted by God as God’s sons and daughters, and we have God’s life giving presence and power in our lives.
FILLED BUT STILL
Many people look at the condition of the church today and wonder why we don’t see more evidence of the Holy Spirit, if we are all filled with the Spirit. Where is the speaking in tongues? Where is the healing, the prophesying, and the casting out of demons?
At least part of the problem has to do with what we, as modern day American Christians believe is the purpose of the church. We believe that the church, and God, is here to serve us.
• The church is here so that we can recharge our batteries and get through another week.
• We believe that the church is here to teach our children the Christian faith—in an entertaining and enjoyable manner.
• The church counsels us, comforts us, joins us together as husband and wife, and lays us to rest.
Of course the church does do these things, but if this is the depth of our Christian experience, we certainly don’t need the Holy Spirit. If we are in the church only for ourselves we are in for the wrong reason.
The Spirit was given to the church for mission. Jesus did not receive the Holy Spirit until he was ready to begin his ministry. Jesus sent the disciples out, on that Easter Evening, before he gave them the Spirit. In Acts the disciples were commissioned to be Jesus’ witnesses to the ends of the world before they received the Spirit.
When we are about ministry, we experience the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in a mighty way.
FILLED AND FLYING
When we live out the truth that God gathers us as his people so that he can send us out as his missionaries, we are like a balloon that has been released. God guides us and directs us, though sometimes it is on a step by step basis. God also empowers us.
To be involved in mission requires a change in our perspective on life. We reject the world’s teaching that life is about more and bigger.
To be involved in mission challenges us to change our focus from ourselves to others. God has blessed us so that we can be a blessing.
To be involved in mission invites us to let go, lose control, and let God. God beckons us to trust him—to believe that God is in control of our lives so that we don’t need to be, and that the Holy Spirit will guide us along the very best path for us.
When we are involved in mission, the Spirit will be evident by giving us the opportunity and the ability to proclaim the gospel, and will touch the lives of those around us.
I have been amazed at how the Holy Spirit has moved in and through Desert Streams. The land and the Outreach Center are Spirit things. I’ve seen people’s lives changed, their faith strengthened, and I’ve seen people do things they never believed themselves capable of doing. The Holy Spirit is as work.
God is calling each and every one of us to a ministry. God is inviting us to let go and behold his power in our lives, and in our congregation.