Trust in GodŐs Promises!
Pastor Jim Kniseley preached this sermon at Resurrection on the Day of Pentecost, May 19, 2013. The sermon text is John 14: 16-17, ŇAnd I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.Ó
Dear Friends in Christ,
Welcome to Pentecost, the Birthday of the Christian Church. The striking red decorations today remind us of what took place on Pentecost almost 2,000 years ago. What do we see? First of all we see the color red and red always proclaims a bold action of God, and a response by the people of God. We see the picture of the dove in several places. The dove is a symbol for the Holy Spirit. And we see the tongues of fire, the reminder that at Pentecost people from around the world heard the good news of Jesus in their own languages.
The word that I want to lift up for us today is the word ŇpromiseÓ. Pentecost is all about keeping promises. Today Gracie and Kelsey will be making a promise to God about being faithful in their Christian walk and in their participation in the Christian community. Your promise is built upon the promise made by your parents and god-parents at your baptism.
Here is a profound truth for Gracie and Kelsey: if you try to keep these promises on your own, you will fail. On your own, you donŐt have the strength to keep them. You need help.
The wonderful promise of God at Pentecost is a promise of heavenly help. Just before Jesus ascended to heaven, he told the disciples, ŇDo not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.Ó
What we do today at Resurrection ties us directly to the fulfillment of GodŐs promises at the First Pentecost in Jerusalem. The promised Holy Spirit came to the 120 believers and they were able to proclaim the good news of Jesus to others. Folks from every nation heard that good news in their own language. Today the gift of the Holy Spirit is given to us in many ways. When I teach confirmation, I always give this advice. When you shower first thing in the morning, say these words: ŇI am baptized. I am chosen. I am a child of God. I belong to Jesus Christ.Ó Let the water running over you remind your of your baptism. Make the sign of the cross and note how this day is beginning in the promise of GodŐs grace and forgiveness. Remember that you are sent into the world to live your faith through your many callings as student, friend, family member, athlete, musician, but your identity has already been clearly given to you: a baptized child of God. And your baptism, a covenant of promise with God, has been sealed by the Holy Spirit.
At Pentecost we remember that we are a community of faith because GodŐs faithful promise has made us so. We are ChristŐs Church. We are the Body of Christ, called by the Holy Spirit.
I am thankful that God has gifted Kelsey and Gracie with beauty and brains, with good family and friends, with opportunities in abundance. I hope that you are seeking GodŐs guidance in figuring out the meaning and purpose for your lives from here on. Here is a wonderful truth: GodŐs promises will guide you in your quest for finding meaning and purpose in your lives.
Here are the 5 promises you will be making to God, this community and yourselves today. In keeping them, you will find the answers to the meaning and purpose of your lives:
á To live among GodŐs faithful people
á To hear the word of God and share in the LordŐs supper
á To proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed
á To serve all people, following the example of Jesus
á And to strive for justice and peace in all the earth?
Today we thank our God for promises. Thank you, God, for sending your promise of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. May the promises we make to God be empowered by that same Holy Spirit in our lives everyday.
Thanks be to our God. Amen!