2019-06-09/Pentecost-C/Rev. Joseph Vought/Community Lutheran
Acts 2:1-21 Romans 8:14-17 John 14:8-17, 25-27
“Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force: You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world. Your task will not be easy. Your enemy is well trained and battle-hardened…I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle. Let us all beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.” –Dwight Eisenhower, June 1944
Were you moved by the commemorations of D-Day? Debra and I were because of people we knew who served and our trip to France, the Normandy landing sites and battlefields last summer. Eisenhower’s words are stirring because they mark the end of training and the onset of a great campaign. Pentecost, the 50th Day of Easter, is such a time, it is the end of training for the disciples and their launch into the world as messengers of God’s Good News. All our readings give us a perspective on the event. Did you hear Jesus in the Gospel encouraging his disciples for their great adventure? “The one who believes in me will do the works I do and will do greater works…. If you love me, keep my commandments. I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate. The Holy Spirit will teach you everything, and remind you of all I have said to you. My peace I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”
Eisenhower said the loneliest time of his whole career was when D-Day began and all he could do was pray and wait for news of the battle. Jesus’ disciples would do greater, different things than Jesus in other places. They would need to rely on the Holy Spirit, their training to remember Jesus’ words and deeds to see them through.
Look at Acts and you have D-day for the disciples and for us, the Holy Spirit launching them: “Divided tongues rested on them, filled with the Holy Spirit they spoke in other languages… devout Jews from every nation under heaven. Peter declares, “God will pour out my Spirit on all flesh: young men, old men, slaves and women before the Lord’s great day, and everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” We even have landing places (like Juno, Gold, Sword, Omaha) where the Gospel will be spread… Mesopotamia, Judea, Pontus, Asia, Libya and Cyrene… God says ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh.’” The Good News of Jesus’ Love for the world.
Paul’s stirring words in Romans are for them and each one of us ordained in our Baptism, “We did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, the Spirit bears witness that we are children of God, even in our suffering.” Born again by the Spirit, marked with the cross of Christ, like Jesus, we are engaged in a battle. St. Paul speaks to our fears and reminds us we are God’s children.
Listen to what Jon Meachem has said about falling victim to fear or hanging on to hope: “Fear feeds anxiety; hope breeds optimism. Fear is about limits; hope is about growth. Fear casts its eyes warily across the landscape and borders; hope looks forward. Fear points at others with blame; hope points ahead, fear divides; hope unifies… The message of Martin Luther King, Jr., “that we should be judged on the content of our character, not on the color of our skin—dwells in the American soul; so does the menace of the Ku Klux Klan. History hangs in the balance between such extremes. Our fate depends upon which element—hope or fear—emerges triumphant.” And then to quote one of my favorite saints, Lily Tomlin, “Remember in the rat-race of life, you’re still just a rat. We belong to one race, the human race.”
If we do the brave men who stormed the D-Day beaches honor, we must affirm our faith and realize we are no less involved in a battle than those who fought on D-Day in the Civil War or the War of Civil rights. St. Paul says, “All who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So we pray that we will keep the faith and not be overcome by fear. Jesus prays for us, the Holy Spirit empowers us and nothing, no thing shall ever separate us from God’s love. Children of God and Saints of God, stand with me today and receive your commission once more as messengers of Good News in the world God loves.
Let us pray, Lord Jesus send your Holy Spirit, the spirit of your love, unity and peace to renew the face of the earth. As you have made of one blood all the peoples of the earth and sent your blessed Son to preach peace to those who are far off and those who are near: Grant that people everywhere may seek after you and find you, bring the nations into your fold, pour out your Spirit upon all flesh and hasten the coming of your Kingdom. Give all of us wisdom, grace and faith to meet the trials of each day and to claim our faith with joy knowing that you love us and we are yours forever. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. Amen.