Alleluia, Christ is risen! He is risen indeed, alleluia!
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Everyone likes something new. There is just something about the unknown and anticipated that brings a tension and excitement. Lots of things are planned for grand openings, new releases, and such matters. Just think about how many of you anticipated and planned last weekend. And thank you all, it was a grand and joyous day. Think of all the questions and issues to be planned.
While I’m sure there are more there were questions about what food will be served, how many pastors will be here, how many people will come, will the new guy sing at all? You’ve had that anticipation in the past with new vicars as well. Even as you gather here today, there is a little bit of anticipation in coming to hear the new pastor proclaim God’s Word.
There is the grand opening. As with all things new, things may be grand and a great joy, but likely not always as anticipated. Things did not exactly go as people anticipated 8 weeks ago. As they waved palm branches and celebrated the coming of the King of Israel they did not see the events that would unfold that week. Truthfully, for most, by Friday and Saturday of that week there really was a let down. They gathered for a festival season and things didn’t exactly go as planned or imagined.
I’m sure that’s never happened to you here. There has never been an expectation of how things should go that you turn even against God Himself when things do not go as desired, has there? You’ve never come to a church festival and been disappointed or upset that the message was not what you wanted to hear, that your favorite hymn not sung, or someone you don’t really care for sat next to you, have you? Or during what is supposed to be a festive time and then is overshadowed by something in your personal life so you even dare turn against God by being bitter or even just not show up to hear His Word and receive His gifts?
Yet, what they had heard on the way home at the end of week was the news that all was not as they perceived.
Alleluia, Christ is risen! He is risen indeed, alleluia!
So here we are fifty days later. Another festival season. Fifty days after Passover and the church of God was gathered together for Feast of the Harvest or the Feast of Weeks in celebration not of the Lord’s deliverance from Egypt but the giving of the Torah on Sinai. There were seven weeks to try and make sense of it all. Seven weeks to try and understand what this all meant. They were gathered from all over. Much greater distances than Poynette, and Lodi, and Pardeeville, and even Portage. At the festival they were gathered from distances similar to the likes of coming together from Nevada to Wisconsin for the celebration.
So on that Sunday morning, gathered together, with great anticipation after the resurrection and ascension, no one knew what would come. And a mighty rushing wind comes, there is fire, and the apostles are preaching, and everyone with different languages understand. The people are skeptical, they wonder if they are drunk, which to be honest is rather kooky, considering it is 9am and language skills generally do not improve in such a condition. Rather than a drunken stupor it is God breathing through the church to make all things new in the death and resurrection of Jesus.
The Holy Spirit comes at a great feast of the harvest. The Exodus celebration was not to celebrate their salvation and deliverance, but God giving His Word to Moses on Sinai and the celebration of God giving Himself and providing for His people in the wilderness. On this Sunday morning, the celebration is that God who has redeemed His people comes to gather them together, to give them His Word and gifts.
It is what was prophesied even through Ezekiel. The graves are open and the Spirit of the Lord lives and is given to you. It is just as Jesus fulfilled and promised. The grave is open and He will send the Paraclete, the Helper. Here’s the thing about the Spirit though, He never comes to proclaim Himself. He comes to be your Helper, to reveal to you the Savior. To gather you together to receive Him who died for you and risen from the grave gives you life.
Jesus already gave His apostles the Spirit when He breathed it upon them and gave them authority to forgive sins. Now, ascended and seated at the right hand of the Father He gives His Spirit to His church, to you, in a grand opening and new fashion. He breathes His Spirit over sinners who have dry and dusty bones and raises those bones, your flesh, to new life.
Yet it is not so new. God breathed His Spirit and gave man, Adam, the breath, the spirit, of life. The new man is alive, not by your own reason or strength but the same Spirit who comes and breathes the gifts of Christ over you. The Spirit who calls you, gathers you, enlightens you, and sanctifies you, by the Gospel, with His gifts, in faith in Christ crucified and risen for you.
The Spirit continues proclaiming. Proclaiming His same word of life and salvation through the grace of God for you. Proclaiming the salvation promised from Exodus, through the prophet Joel from which they preach, to today.
Jesus continues to pour over you His Spirit and give you the same gifts. It was the great reveal. The fulfillment of the anticipation that has been building for weeks. While it wasn’t what was expected, for no one knew what to expect anymore, it was greater than anticipated.
Yet it was the same thing they always had, just further revealed by the Helper. The real problem is we get tired of it all. They just grew tired of it. Hearing the same promise of the Messiah week after week in worship. Always looking forward. Faith in the Lord who promised to save seemed dim and on the decline. Much like many say of our society today. Yet elsewhere the Gospel is flourishing, particularly Africa and South America. For the Spirit continues to do His work of calling sinners to repentance and giving the forgiveness of sins in the gifts of Christ.
The danger is much like many others throughout both Old and New Testament people, we take our eyes off. The danger is to not trust in the Spirit who points to and reveals the Messiah, the Christ, but look for more, for some fire, for some feeling or emotion, or some great show. We know the Spirit is at work not by fire, not by winds, and not by feelings and emotions which come and go, but that which we celebrate and receive the same as they did on the Day of Pentecost. The Spirit continues to be at work in the proclamation of the Christ, in His pouring Himself over you in baptism, in bringing forth in you repentance and forgiveness of sin, in the proclamation of the Lord that is in the eating and drinking of His body and blood. In these things not only is each Sunday a little Easter but also a little Pentecost (Sasse, We Confess Anthology, On the Holy Spirit).
The Spirit is here, among God’s people, with you. The Spirit is here to give you Christ. Your sins are forgiven. Your sinful, dying flesh is given new life as it was baptized and made new in Christ. The Spirit opens your mouth to receive and confess Jesus as Lord, your Lord. The Spirit continues to do His work, calling you by the Gospel, enlightening you with His gifts, sanctifying and keeping you, the Church, in the one, true faith. Always new, new life, and while we may not see it always, always greater than anticipated in the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation that is yours in Christ. On the last day, these dead, dry bones will live just as surely as Jesus lives. His death is your and so to His life yours, given by His Spirit.
In the name of the Father and of + the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.