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       Sermons | Passionate worship

      This sermon was preached by the Rev. Michael Moore at Swift Presbyterian Church.

      June 5, 2022 | Pentecost Sunday

      If You Love Me …
      Acts 2:1–21  John 14:8–17,25–27

       I T’S PENTECOST SUNDAY once again. We will wear red and talk about tongues of fire and the fact that Peter and the others weren’t drunk on new wine at 9 a.m. like some in the crowd suspected. It is a holy day like so many other holy days such as Christmas, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter.

      The thing is — to discover the awe and wonder of these holy days and to specifically discover the awe and wonder of Pentecost — we are invited to peel away the layers of history and imagine what it was like to be in with Peter and the others.

      We are also invited to imagine what it was like to be in the crowd on that day.

      This Pentecost Sunday is also significant because it is the first Sunday that I am preaching as the new interim minister at Swift Presbyterian Church. Just as Peter and the other disciples were caught up in something new and amazing when the Holy Spirit came to visit, I believe that the church and I are also being invited to experience what the Holy Spirit has in mind for us.

      † † †

      THIS YEAR, the lectionary pairs the Acts reading with a deep conversation between Jesus and Philip (and the other disciples) as recorded in the Gospel of John (chapter 14:8–17, 25–27). As I began studying and reflecting on both readings from Scripture in light of the festival of Pentecost and beginning this journey with the good people of Swift Presbyterian, some themes began to emerge.

      The message of the Acts story reveals to me an exciting, even though at times overwhelming, opportunity to bring the people of God, all of God’s children, together as one body that celebrates the beauty and diversity of God’s creation.

      † † †

      WHAT IS THE MESSAGE of Pentecost? I believe it is more than the prophecy of Joel with blood, fire, smoky mists and the moon turning to blood. Isn’t the message of Pentecost calling us to love and serve the Lord here in Foley, South Alabama, and beyond?

      To love God, all neighbors, and ourselves was Jesus’ summation of the law and the prophets. As Peter and the apostles began their journey, their call was to share that message with the known world.

      When Jesus told Philip that to love him was to obey his commandments, Jesus was giving the disciples their marching orders. They were to love as Jesus taught them to love and they would do even greater things than Jesus as they followed the Spirit’s guidance in their ministry.

      If you love me, he said — if you love me.

      † † †

      WE ARE EACH CALLED to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. We are also called to love our neighbors — every neighbor — as ourselves.

      Thomas Merton had an epiphany on the corner of Fourth and Walnut in downtown Louisville, Kentucky, on March 18, 1958. This revelation opened his cloistered world in a new and amazing way. It was also part of his transformation from being apart from the world, to becoming a significant part of the world from the monastery. He wrote the following in his book Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander (pp 156–158) about this revelation.

      In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers … . It is a glorious destiny to be a member of the human race, though it is a race dedicated to many absurdities and one which makes many terrible mistakes; yet, with all that, God Himself gloried in becoming a member of the human race. A member of the human race! To think that such a commonplace realization should suddenly seem like news that one holds the winning ticket in a cosmic sweepstakes.

      I have the immense joy of being a man, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.

      † † †

      I FIRMLY BELIEVE that this is the invitation of Pentecost. To love all “those people and realize that we could not be alien to one another … and to see each other walking around shining like the sun.”

      In that sense, we become one in the Spirit and one in the Lord and seek to be recognized as Christ-followers by our love.

      — Michael Moore   


      «Just as Peter and the other disciples were caught up in something new and amazing when the Holy Spirit came to visit, I believe that the church and I are also being invited to experience what the Holy Spirit has in mind for us.»

      SCRIPTURE FOR THE DAY

      This is the Word of God for the people of God:


      Acts 2:1–21
      Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version

      The Holy Spirit comes at Pentecost
      2 
      When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them.

      5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,[b] 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs — we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”

      13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”

      Peter addresses the crowd
      14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

      17 “ ‘In the last days, God says,
          I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
      Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
          your young men will see visions,
          your old men will dream dreams.

      18 Even on my servants, both men and women,
          I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
          and they will prophesy.

      19 I will show wonders in the heavens above
          and signs on the earth below,
          blood and fire and billows of smoke.

      20 The sun will be turned to darkness
          and the moon to blood
          before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.

      21 And everyone who calls
          on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
      [c]

      — This is the Word of the Lord.
      — Thanks be to God.


      Footnotes:
           a.  Acts 2:4  Or languages; also in verse 11
           b.  Acts 2:9  That is, the Roman province by that name
           c.  Acts 2:21  Joel 2:28–32


      This is the Word of God for the people of God:


      John 14:8–17,25–27
      Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version

      8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”

      9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

      Jesus promises the Holy Spirit
      15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever — 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be[a] in you.

      25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

      — This is the Word of the Lord.
      — Thanks be to God.


      Footnote:
           a.  John 14:17  Some early manuscripts and is


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