Emmitsburg Council of Churches

 
The Holy Gospel According to St. John

Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied." 14:9 Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? 14:10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 14:11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. 14:12 Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. 14:13 I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14:14 If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it. 14:15 "If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 14:16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. 14:17 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.

[14:25 "I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 14:26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.]

The Gospel of the Lord . . .


Holy Spirit, Not Always Seen
but Giving us Faith

This past Friday morning I drove down to Annapolis to see my nephew graduate from the Naval Academy. After driving for almost two and a half hours on what should have been an hour and fifteen minute trip, I was slightly disappointed at not getting to the Naval Academy football stadium on time. Although I did get to hear the cannons ushering in the beginning of the ceremonies as I parked in a neighborhood adjacent to the stadium and said a quick prayer that the car would not be towed (I was only blocking half of somebody's driveway!).

Of course this was an exciting event for our family and all of the families representing the 900 graduates gathered there. We all had much to be proud of in these young men and women.

If you know about the Academy's graduation ceremony, then you know that one of the highlights is when the Elite Navy flying team, The Blue Angels, does a "fly over" the stadium there.

But since it was a partially cloudy day on that Saturday morning, the Angels had to cancel their appearance. . . . . I have to admit, I was just a little disappointed, but then again, that's not really why I was there.

What was most important was that Justin, my sister's son (my nephew), had completed his studies and was getting on his way to flight school in Pensacola, Florida. However, Justin's Uncle "Davy" (my brother-in-law's younger brother) was more disappointed than I was about the lack of an appearance by the Blue Angels. Now I have to explain that, this particular uncle, Uncle Davy, is a very special guy, as he is slightly disabled . . . . however, he has the gift of being very joy-filled and he likes to be humorous.

With a gleam in his eye, Davy suggested to Justin that maybe he should return to the Academy for another four years so that then the Blue Angels would have another chance to make their appearance at the graduation!! Davy laughed heartily as he watched Justin's expression change from a smile to a frown at the suggestion that he would do another four years! Then, a second or two later, Davy added, "Nah, Justin, I was just kidding about that, I think the Blue Angels should do a special fly over just for you! Right now at this party! And if they won't do that, I'm gonna root for Army at the next football game!!" Davy laughed heartily at this thought and everyone joined him!

The sincerity of Uncle Davy's desire to see the Blue Angels Fly over the graduation ceremony, made me think of our desire to see and experience the Holy Spirit's Power at work in our lives and in the life of the Church.

I don't know if you share my curiosity about what it would have been like to be there in the house when "the sound of the rushing wind was heard and the "tongues of flame" were observed hovering over the disciples, and when they went outside and were supernaturally enabled to speak and understand all kinds of foreign languages! What a remarkable event this was. And the net result was that 3000 people from all nations heard the Gospel message that Peter preached and were baptized . . . . and they too were given the gift of the Holy Spirit.

We can only imagine that when these 3000 returned home to their families and neighbors, then these many more people also heard about the Gospel story and the wondrous event that took place on that PENTECOST day when they had gone to celebrate the giving of the Law of God, when it was delivered to them by Moses at the base of Mt. Sinai some 1200 years earlier in Israel's history.

Here is an interesting thought, the Jewish people had come to Jerusalem from every nation of the world at that time. They came to celebrate the Festival Day of Pentecost, the fulfillment of Moses 50 days since he had gone up the Mountain of God, and had returned with the stone tablets of the Law, which became the central tenet of the Jewish faith. But on this day, the Church celebrates the sending of the Holy Spirit that comes to speak about the NEW LAW, IN CHRIST, through the Disciples.

The Old Law required appeasement of God through the blood sacrifice, but the New Law proclaims that the Debt has been paid by God through Jesus Christ. And that Sin and Death no longer have power over us, because God has provided the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, and through his death and resurrection, the debt of sin and the punishment of death have been overcome. This is the Gospel by which we have been saved! The Holy Spirit is the present comforter and guarantor that we are the recipients of this NEW LAW, the Law of GRACE and PEACE -- the Gospel.

We receive the Spirit's presence into our being at the time of our Baptism. There is not a human action that brings this about. It is not as though we can will the Spirit to fill us, it does fill us of its own accord, the Spirit is the gift of God and is at work in us, "now correcting, now rebuking" as Paul says. I suppose that one dimension of the Spirit's work is as an extension of the human conscience.

So were are the little flames that danced above the disciples heads?? Where's the sound of the rushing wind?? And when will we be enabled to speak and understand other people's languages which are foreign to our ears??

Like my Nephew's Uncle, who really was disappointed at not seeing and hearing the Blue Angel's flying overhead, we have these longings and questions. However, we do have a Guarantee of the Spirit's presence. Just like my nephew and his classmates had received their full, just deserves when they walked across that stage, shook the Admiral's hand and received their diploma . . . . So likewise, we who have been received into Christ's Church through Holy Baptism have the assurance of the Spirit's Presence.

As Peter stated in the Book Of Acts 2:38, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone who the Lord our God calls to him."

Today, we bear witness to the ways in which the Holy Spirit has been at work in our midst. For it is the Spirit who has given us life. It is the Spirit who inspired our ancestors, who having come to this land of Emmitsburg some 250 years ago, took it upon themselves to gather as an assembly of Christ's Church in the fields there along Tom's Creek Church Road. And it was by the Spirit, that people sacrificed and gave generously in order to build this beautiful church building that we are so fond of, and which stands as a Memorial to God's working in the hearts of His people . . . . of course we are only one small part of the Church of Jesus Christ, but the Spirit is at work throughout the world building the one Church!

Because of the Spirit there are enumerable Christians now in China and Africa and Russia. The Spirit is alive and well, we need only to look for the ways in which it is at work in our midst. We have only to become quiet in our minds and physical attributes in order to listen and hear what the Spirit wants us to receive. We need to be careful to discern that our spirit is in tune with the Holy Spirit, which proceeds from the Father and the Son and is therefore in harmony with the will of God and the actions of Christ Jesus.

It is by the Spirit that three of our Young People come this morning to Confirm the Faith into which they have been Baptized. The Spirit gives us birth and enables us to grow!!

And it is by the Holy Spirit that we, like the Disciples so long ago are enabled to share the Love of God with Others:

I have to tell you all about my conversation with Joseph who visited us a few months ago along with his wife Gloria. Those of you who met them, know that Joseph and Gloria are from Ghana, Africa. They had been living here in Emmitsburg as Joseph was a student at the Mount. In their homeland Joseph and Gloria had been part of the Pentecostal Church, perhaps you noticed their bright smiles and laughter that witnessed to the joy they had in their Christian faith. When I spoke to Joseph about visiting our congregation, and how I was hoping to visit with them at their home, Joseph explained that he was so sad that they had moved from Emmitsburg down to Frederick . . . and that the distance was too great for them to worship with us.

But most importantly, Joseph went on to explain how wonderful it felt to them that our Congregation here at Elias had welcomed them and made them feel that they were part of our fellowship and family!! This was a fantastic witness to the Spirit's work in our midst.

As on the day of Pentecost so long ago, when the Spirit gave the people the ability to speak and hear other people speaking as in One Language, so the Spirit continues to work through you and I by faith we are enabled to welcome and receive as one of us, people from all different places and walks of life. By the Spirit we can speak and listen and understand one another. Maybe this is the rushing wind that we experience each time that the vestibule doors are opened. When God's people are sharing, caring and acting on behalf of one another. This is truly the miracle of God The Work of God is accomplished, by the Holy Spirit working in us.

Amen

Read more writings of Pastor Jon