Summary: The Spirit is God who calls, gathers, enlighten, and santifies!
Sermon for John 14: 15-21
Sixth Sunday of Easter
May 1st 2005
Say Amen! Say Hallelujah! Say Praise the Lord! What’s up with these strange looks? What is it about the Holy Spirit that makes us squirm in our seats? I mean we all believe in God right? And I probably preach about Jesus 90% of the time, and we like hearing those messages, right? But when it comes to the third person of the Trinity people from the Lutheran tradition aren’t quite certain how to react. We might get uptight, worried, even concerned.
Do we really believe what we recite in the Apostle’s and Nicene Creed were we say, “We believe in the Holy Spirit?” Do we believe the Holy Spirit is intended for us or is it something that resides in those ‘other churches?’ Do we believe the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity—actually God’s self? You see, the Holy Spirit can be so much more than we often allow it to be. We believe, but our disbelief is also present.
In the first lesson of Acts, the writer Luke tells about how Paul goes to Athens Greece. Here he runs into a Greek culture with many gods. He stands in front of the people and says, “Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. I even found an altar with the inscription, “To an unknown god.”
And in many ways we live in a culture not so much different than what Paul runs into…an extremely religious culture. That’s right! There is not a shortage of gods in the world today and we worship them all…god of money, god of family, god of job, god of pleasure, god of self—but as Paul claims we ought not think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or images formed by the arts and imagination of our minds. God is the One who gives mortals life and breath and all things. God is the One who overlooks our ignorance and commands you and I to repent.
And as Peter writes, God is One who suffers the death on the cross for your sin, even went to the spirits in prison. It is through passage such as this one where we derive our descended into hell from our creeds—or as I like to put it, Jesus descends to even to our darkest places—even in our hell God is there. God is One who raised Jesus from the dead and will judge the world. Can I get an Amen?
Yet so much of the time to us extremely religious people, this God who does so much remains simply an unknown God.
However, in today’s passage of John we read that Jesus promises an Advocate, a Helper, a Comforter—the Spirit of truth, whom the world has such a difficult time in receiving. The text goes on to say, “But you know him, because he lives with you, and he will be in you.” Once again Jesus comes to us in our darkest places, our hell and says, “I will not leave you orphaned. I will not leave you alone.”
And it’s interesting that today our society is petrified of being alone. We have more gizmos and gadgets than any generation before us, all intended to keep us in touch with one another. Just this past week I counted 10-10 mind you cars in a row talking on their cell phone. Is that because we can’t stand being left alone?
But Jesus promises that the Holy Spirit of God will come so that we would not be left alone, Say “Not Alone! Praise the Lord!”
Jesus also tells us that although he would be leaving, those who love him and follow his commandments will never die. How that for a promise! Because I live, you shall live also. Say permanent house guests. Hallelujah!
Jesus also tells us that the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach all things and help us remember all things that have been taught. This is the Spirit of Truth. Say “All Things! Amen.”
Martin Luther says, “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him, but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith, even as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth.”
So using Martin Luther’s teaching and Scripture we will see and understand the Holy Spirit is the one shows us this unknown God and who calls us to follow Christ, who gathers us into community, who enlightens us with His knowledge and His gifts, and actually keeps us in the faith. Say, “Come Holy Spirit!”