Happy Pentecost. And Happy Baptism Day. And, Happy Sundaes on Sunday Day, and a Happy End of the Program Year to us all--This is indeed a celebratory Sunday at All Saints’--
A culmination of another year spent together in study, prayer, service and connection--
A year spent together as CHURCH. Being Church. Doing Church.
The Church, after all, is not just a building of brick and mortar. It’s not merely a place you go—and then leave--
The CHURCH is you and me and all of us together--
It is the body of Christ—past, present and future connected as one throughout time--
We are the Church--
This morning is, of course, The Feast of Pentecost—a feast that is sometimes called the Birthday of the Church--
because when the gift of the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples, they were empowered to come out of hiding and to freely and joyfully proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ to the world--
Baptizing any and all who wished to be part of the growing community of Christians—a community that would become what we now know as the Christian Church.
We are told this morning in our reading from the Gospel of John that the Holy Spirit is an Advocate that will be with us forever--
We can imagine the Holy Spirit as the very breath of God dwelling in us--
Our catechism tells us that, The Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Trinity at work in the world and in the Church even now--
And of course, in the Book of Acts we read a description of the Holy Spirit as tongues of fire that descended from the sky and rested on each of the disciples--
This is why we traditionally wear red—the color of fire—to church on Pentecost Sunday.
As I sat with the image of The Holy Spirit as fire, I began to think of the ways we use fire in our speech.
For example, if we say an idea “caught fire” we mean that the idea was enthusiastically received by many people--
If we say, “Let’s Get Fired UP!” we mean, let’s get really excited about something.
Or, my favorite is when we say, “She’s got a fire in her belly” we mean she has a passion and determination about something.
The opposite of any of these—is to be dull, dim, unenthusiastic, cold and not able to spread quickly or with energy.
I love imagining the Holy Spirit as fire.
And, I wonder, Dear Church, how is the fire in our collective Christian bellies?
Are we fired up in our lives, our relationships, our world?
When was the last time something caught fire in our imaginations and led us to creative and exciting work?
This morning we will baptize five people into the Body of Christ--
To be a baptized Christian is to be sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked as Christ’s own forever.
The Holy Spirit is a gift given to us in our baptism--
We are promised by Christ that we will receive the Holy Spirit as an advocate and guide.
Without a doubt, the Holy Spirit is with us— The fire is in us my brothers and sisters in Christ.
The Holy Spirit is Here. But, have we caught fire?
Perhaps we need to “stoke the fire” a bit—to tend to the fire. To care for the fire--
On This Pentecost Sunday, I wonder, How can we tend the holy fire within?
As we enter the season after Pentecost, we enter the Great Green Growing Season of the Church.
It is a long season—lasting all the way until the first Sunday in Advent.
And, I wonder if this Great Green Growing season of the Church might also be a good “fire-tending” season—a time to take care of the Holy Fire Within.
For some of us, summertime is a season that might feel a little bit slower—with time for travel and wandering and release from our usual work and school routines--
We might find ourselves restored this summer by nature: trees and mountains and beaches--
Perhaps, then, dwelling in and appreciating God’s Creation—is a “fire-tending” practice.
Or, maybe with a break from our regular routine, we might make space and time for the study of scripture—for table fellowship with our friends and families— and to regularly partake in the sacrament of Holy Communion—all “fire-tending” practices.
My Brothers and Sisters in Christ, the Truth of Pentecost is This:
We are made by God to be fully alive.
We are made to have a fire in our belly. A spark in our eye. We are made to be fired-up. Fiesty, even, in our passion for whatever it is that catches us, moves us, compels us.
The Power of the Holy Spirit transforms Fear into Courage. Isolation into Belonging. A mere shadow into illumination. Even, Death into Life.
This spiritual transformation is the essence of the Jesus Movement that caught fire 2,000 years ago when when the Holy Spirit landed on those disciples in that locked room--
The Transformational Power of The Holy Spirit, once received, could not be stopped and still burns within us, through us and for us today--
But, we must Tend The Holy Fire within so that we don’t literally become burned out: dull or dim or cold.
Let’s make this season after Pentecost—The Great Green Growing Season—a season to tend to the holy fire within by drawing near to Christ—in creation, in one another, in scripture, and in the sacraments and Christian service.
Our families, our schools and our communities—our country and our world need us to be Christians who are alive, burning with energy and passion, and courage--
The World needs a Christian Church with a fire in it’s belly—a brightly burning witness to the love, and compassion, joy and peace of Jesus Christ.
Anne K. Ellsworth
May 15, 2016
Pentecost, Year C
All Saints’ Episcopal Church and Day School
My Sermons (and other thoughts)
a sampling of sermons preached in the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona and a sprinkling of other writings