The Power of the Holy Spirit:
Even Greater Works

As most of you know, I've been on vacation the past 10 days. It was a restful vacation, spent at the beach in Virginia Beach and then at Kitty Hawk in North Carolina. Much happened within me spiritually. At first glance it would not seem that it was spiritual, but the events of my vacation affected me, changed me, in a way that could only be described as spiritual. When we have time to reflect on the happenings of our day, we become aware of how led we are by the Holy Spirit. Whether or not we reflect on the happenings of our day, or understand them is up to us, but nevertheless, the Holy Spirit is there to guide us into awareness and understanding.

Most of us are too caught up in our days to reflect upon them and to see the connections or perhaps even see lost opportunities or see how we didn't make the most beneficial choices. We just label the day as good or bad or horrid, difficult. You notice there are more negatives there than positives. And even if we say we had a good day, we very often qualify it with something like "it won't last though" or "if I had a day this good, there must be something really bad around the corner."

But, vacation made me see I needed to take time to reflect. I was able to see the connections. I was able to see how the Holy Spirit led me to particular people or places and movies, and that it was up to me to reflect upon the connections so that I might gain some insight.

I did see lots of movies. Actually, going to the movie theatre, I saw five movies, but I rented many videos to get caught up on ones I had missed that I wanted to see. In my remarks tomorrow afternoon, as speaker at the Memorial Day Ceremonies at the American Legion Post after the parade, I will make reference to one, TROY. It has many battle scenes, but it's really an anti-war movie. Some of the statements Achilles makes, he the greatest of warriors, are very anti-war. But those aren't the statements I make reference to. I hope you'll come to the ceremonies, not only to hear what I have to say, but because we are a nation at war, and daily our men and women are dieing and we must not let their great sacrifice go without honor.

There was more talk of God in the movie TROY, although they spoke, of course, of their Greek gods, than there was in two other movies I saw just Friday night: "Raising Helen" and "The Day After Tomorrow."

In the movie, "Raising Helen," Helen enrolls the three children who have been entrusted to her care by her late sister and brother-in-law, in a Lutheran School. She meets and dates the Lutheran Pastor. The writers almost make him a buffoon. And even though he is in her life, and the kids are in the school, the movie never has her turn to God to help her through any of the enormous responsibility she faces, and nothing is said to help the kids, all three who have just lost their parents in a car accident. Why have the character be a pastor? Why have it be a "church school" if it is not relevant to the plot? I learned that in the very basics of writing short story and plays: everything must be relevant to the plot, and move it forward.

And the other movie, "The Day After Tomorrow," about the deadly affects of global warming, the only reference to God is made by a man who loves books and is holding on to one large book. A girl asks him if he thinks

God is going to help him. He says he is holding the book because it is an original copy of the Gutenberg Bible. And its value, to him, is not that it is a Bible, but that it was the beginning of the printed word.

Here they are, all the characters, faced with possible destruction of the world and no one, no one, refers to God. Not even to wonder why all this is happening? Not even to get angry at or question God.

So, what's my point? First of all, I believe I was led to those two movies-I saw them one following the other. I actually only saw that they were playing, they opened that day at that theatre, because I was on my way to the lighthouse at Hatteras but realized as I was driving, that it was further than I thought and I wasn't going to get there before it closed. So, I decided I would see what time the movies were playing and found I could get to see them both.

Why do I think I was led there? Because it affected me as a pastor. It affected how I will live out my ministry and affected what I will emphasize. And it's appropriate that I start today, on Pentecost, where the action and power of the Holy Spirit is revealed; where the Christian Church becomes a universal church, one that is for all people not just the Jewish People, and a church, only a church because of the people, that is empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Jesus tells us that he has fulfilled his role and now it is the third aspect of God, the Holy Spirit who will advocate for us, who will teach us everything and remind us of all that Jesus has taught us. And Jesus says, that "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 go to the Father."

We have to take our role and responsibility as believers seriously folks. We have been given the message of hope; the message of love; the message of compassion; the message of forgiveness. WE are to bring that message to a world that is desperate to hear it. Satan has a loud voice. Satan fills the papers and TV and radio AND movies with messages of despair, of fear, of hate, of hopelessness.

The entire movie about the cataclysmic changes in the climate of the earth focused on the fear and panic and chaotic responses of the people. One scene where three men are about to die, where they have had some time to recognize this, their final act is to share a bottle of scotch together. Not a word or a hint of prayer for themselves or anyone else. Other people run in fear, and even when they have a time of safety, there is STILL no mention of asking God for strength or guidance.

Yes, it's a movie. But I'll bet you that I am one person in a hundred thousand, if not more, who noticed that God was missing. Sure it's just a movie, but movies are like TV or the newspapers-people consciously or unconsciously believe what they read or see. And they don't even recognize what's missing.

I'm not protesting against the movie that they had no one turning to God. What I'm saying is that you and I have let this happen. We have neglected what we are called to do-and that is EVEN GREATER THINGS THAN JESUS DID-and the very basic of that is to hold out love and hope to others. Instead, we get caught up in the fear and despair ourselves and what comes out of our mouths only feeds the negativity, the hopelessness.

People. People. No. No. The Holy Spirit as anointed each believer. We have incredible power at our disposal, yet how are we using it? Listen to your own conversations. Listen to your own responses to others.

Just because you hold out hope doesn't mean you're a Pollyanna, or that you believe in "pie in the sky," or that you see the world through "rose colored glasses." We have let the Devil turn our heads from the truth! The truth is that there is GREAT hope. There is GREAT love in the world. We have let the Devil distort our vision and attitude by believing that what we see and hear in the news is a true picture of the world.

Or we get caught up in listening to people who have come to love their complaining and attitude of despair. It is much easier to complain and to gripe than it is to take a stand for something; to take positive action. God has called each of us to positive action. God hasn't called us to speak a message of hope to the whole world, but HAS called us to speak those words to those we encounter every day: family, friend, stranger. I'm not talking about reciting Bible verses to someone. I'm talking about having your words to others be hopeful ones, not ones that further fear or a feeling of helplessness or hopelessness.

Do you remember last year I was listing the 15th of every month as a "no negativity day?" It was a follow up to a sermon. Just one day. One day. Make a simple start: see if you can be who you say you are, a believer in the message of Christ, a bearer of the message of hope, for just one day.

If WE don't hold out the hope, if we don't do it, then God will find someone else and we'll be left with our despair, our words of hopelessness. If Christians give up on the power of the Holy Spirit to assist them in spreading the message of Christ that is hope, and promise, and compassion, and forgiveness, then they will find that God will find another way to make that known. Christians will find they have turned away from God in a time of the world's greatest need to hear that message, and Christians will be left in their fear and despair and hopelessness.

There will NEVER be more hate than love in the world. Never. But Satan can turn more and more heads from seeing that. I know many people don't like the phrase in the alternate Lord's Prayer that says, "Save us from the time of trial," but it's a more accurate translation of the fear people had then, and that we SHOULD have today. They feared the time of trial where the Devil would tempt them to believe other than what they knew to be true and many would believe the Devil's view of the world and turn from the Truth and God. We Christians should fear that we will be fooled by the Devil and turn our heads from God. If we do, we will desert God by deserting our responsibility to be the vessels, the spokespersons through whom the message of hope is spoken.

Please. Start today. Listen to your words. Look carefully at your attitude. Don't join in the talk of despair. Don't join in the complaining unless you intend to do something positive as a result. It won't be easy. You'll be surprised at how easily we fall into negative talk. Even in how we respond to someone. Listen to your own words about the government, about Taneytown, about youth, about Muslims, about minorities, about any ONE or any THING.

Just listen to the words of others, to your own words. Listen to your

thoughts! Are they words of HOPE? Are they words that Christ expects you to speak on his behalf? We have been given the power, through the Holy Spirit, to do even GREATER things than Jesus did. Not by our own power, but by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Are you doing that? Are you using the power? Begin by cleaning up your act. There isn't ONE of us here today that doesn't need to do that. You will have to listen to your words carefully, though. Most of you will be fooled by the Devil and not recognize that you are adding to the hopelessness of the world rather than the HOPE that Christ has given us to share with others through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Accept that power today and you will see an immediate change in your life. I mean it. Immediate. You will notice your attitude will change. You will begin to hear when you are adding to the worry or despair rather than the hope and promise.

God in the person of the Holy Spirit is asking you today to be open to the power and to use it to promote hope in the world, not add to the despair and hopelessness.

The power is there. It is yours to use. May your use of it bless others, especially those who are feeling fearful and helpless and hopeless, and may your use of the power also bless you-and me. Amen.

Read more sermons by Pastor Brie