Sunday, 15 May 2016

Gifting Spirit - Sermon for 15th May

Pentecost 2016
Acts 2:1-4 & 1Cor 12:1-13

Earlier in the service we used a hot air blower pop corn machine to illustrate the Spirit blowing through and changing everything - permanently.

Sometimes, when I’m chatting to someone and they discover for the first time what I do, how I am called, what my job description is they respond
“Oh, I’m not really very religious”
To which I respond, “Neither am I!”
Or they will say, “You don’t look like a minister”, to which I reply, “Yes, I do – this is what a minister looks like!”

In both instances, people can be a bit nonplussed, because they have an image of what they imagine a minister to be: holy, religious, male, old, boring, strict, humourless, correct, and basically pretty much everything I am not – and to be truthful, what no minister is really like (apart from the male bit – there are still male ministers!)

I cannot really remember how I knew I needed to respond to the Spirit’s prompting, nor indeed, really when it happened. It just did. Through all sorts of people, events and encounters.

The only thing I know for sure is that the Spirit worked something in me, and I was never the same again. It’s like the popcorn.
Before, it’s a hard, tight, lifeless looking thing.
After, it’s broken open, soft, expansive bursting with life.

Before I was happy enough; I’d already followed, responded, changed. So I was feeling pretty good with where I was. The Spirit has already worked in me, and she was still there but I’d done the big stuff…
But you see the thing is, the Spirit doesn’t stop.
She is on a mission.
She doesn’t just come, do stuff and pass on
The Spirit comes and stays – and continues to work us, mould us, move us, change us and rewrite the story with us dragging along, sometimes slow, sometimes fast, but ever moving.

We have been following the life and actions of Paul for several weeks now – we have seen his journeying, heard his writing, reflected on his teaching and witnessed to his changed life.
It wasn’t a one off thing
Everything changed
Everything moved
Everything was different – all the time
The Spirit comes – and life is never the same again.

Years ago – it must have been the mid-1990s, on what was probably pretty much the last time my parents travelled to Scotland my dad came along to our evening, interactive all ages family service with us, it was Pentecost. We were in small groups for discussion…
The discussion question was something along the lines of, “Could the Holy Spirit come down here like it did on that first Pentecost?”

There was much talking; about what it would be like; whether or not we’d believe it; whether we would reject it. Until my Dad spoke up saying, “Of course it couldn’t happen again! Why would it? God promised that once the Spirit came it would be here with us, for always. It doesn’t need to come again – it’s here right now!”

The Spirit is here, right now in our midst
We may not see her
But we feel her
What are you good at? What are your gifts and talents?
Hospitality? – thank the Spirit
Compassion? – thank the Spirit
Thank the Spirit!

“The Spirit’s presence is shown in some way in each person”
In each person
That means you, and you, and you, and you… each and every one gathered here today, and everyone else too!

We are all gifted by the Spirit (even if we do not realise or acknowledge it)
We are all integral parts of Christ’s body the church
We are all important
It was the Spirit who guided us into faith, or towards belief – before we even knew it.
It was the Spirit’s prompting which moved us on, gave us courage when we needed it; inspired us to action, to speak, to pray to seek out that otherness which we could sense but not articulate.

The coming of the Spirit prompted the believers to action. They had to respond – it was impossible not to.

So what about us?
What are we going to do?
How are we going to react?
Where are we going to go?
Because whether we realise it or not, we are Pentecost people.
We are all touched by the Spirit.
The wind of change blows through
And we are touched by its breath
The breath of the Spirit breathes new life into us – changing us forever
You can’t un-pop the corn once it’s been blown on.

The Spirit is generous in her gifting – all are influenced by her – “The Spirit’s presence is shown in some way in each person” (vs.7)
The spirit’s presence is shown for the good of all
In everyone
For everyone
For all time

Blow Spirit Blow
Come, show us all
Help us to remember you are with us, in us, for us… for all time

The Sanctuary at Earlston - all ready for Pentecost

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