Summary: This is a very courageous sermon for my congregation, but the most powerful member of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit is working us within, and yet we struggle to believe it. How important therefore is the Holy Spirit in our lives?
This sermon was delivered to St Oswald’s in Maybole, Ayrshire, Scotland on the 10th January 2016; St Oswalds is a Scottish Episcopal Church in the Dioceses of Glasgow and Dumfries.
The reading for today are:
“Please be seated, and join me in a short prayer.” Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of our hearts, be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer. Amen. (Psalms. 19:14).
I have said before that now and again I enjoy a good documentary on the Television, and you may as well, … lately I have been enjoying the Natural History ones, as the photography and commentaries can be relaxing and spectacular. … One of the best commentators and producers is David Attenborough as you know, producing many fine series over his lifetime.
A great passion of David’s, is to produce documentaries about the great birds of paradise, with their magnificent colours and displays, … and these programs are great to watch, but have you ever noticed that David is always talking about the attributes of these magnificent animals, the creation, … but never the creator who created them. … I have never heard of him speak of God, … not even once.
… I find this most strange, as in these programs we see some of the greatest living things of God creation, and yet all we are directed to are the brightly coloured birds, … or powerful Tigers or poisonous snakes or something, … but never ever the creator who created them. …
To be fair, … David Attenborough is not alone in this, … how many other people look on God’s handiwork and only see the outside physical manifestations ... and never the true miracles within.
But I suppose the reason for this thinking lies in the old saying that if something looks good on the outside, it therefore must be good on the inside, … concluding that if we put all our efforts into looking good, that will somehow hide the poor and shabby interior.
Now appearances are important, but should not be taken to the extreme, … because we all know this way of thinking, this philosophy even has a name, … it is often referred to as “keeping up appearances”, … and you all know the farcical comedy that was derived from that expression with Hyacinth Bucket or Bucket’, getting herself in a right old pickle in order to keep up the appearance to impress others.
… Never in a million years would Hyacinth think of addressing the real problems which lie within, and this too is sad because there are many many people like Hyacinth who only see the outside, the physical, … and miss the real powerhouse within; … and that is what I am getting at today, … because God's word tells us that there is something very very special, something exceptional living within each Christian, and that is God himself, or more accurately the Holy Spirit of God.
God is not up there somewhere, God is within, and yet, many times we struggle to believe this, despite the bible telling us that by acknowledging Jesus as our Lord, … by repenting of our sins, and being buried in Christ through Baptism we receive the "Gift of the Holy Spirit". … In fact that was how I ended my sermon a couple of weeks ago, … and I didn’t plan it this way, … but do you remember me quoting Acts 2:38 at the end, "... Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, ... and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit”.
Now the Holy Spirit, and this is where it gets difficult, he is the least understood, … the least spoke of member of the Godhead, … but he is the powerful member of the Godhead, you know, … how many times have you heard the expression, “by the power of the Holy Spirit”.
Now … there are those who believe that the Holy Spirit is some kind of inanimate object, or a presence, and don’t laugh, but some actually think the Holy Spirit is a minister in his white robes, ... but the Holy Spirit is very much a person in his own right, ... and he is powerful as I have said, … and that is why I need to showing more care, and more reverence in this sermon today, as this is one person we never want to upset.
… Think about it, how many times have you heard God’s name taking in vain, … constantly, … in fact to many the name Jesus is merely a swear word. … How many times have you heard the Holy Spirits name taken in vain? … Never, and you probably never will, … and don’t even think about it; Matthew 12:32 tells us, “And whosoever speaks a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: … but whosoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, … neither in the world to come”; … that is frightening, that is power, and that is the spirit living within us.