Numbers 11:24-30; Psalm 104:25-35, 37; Acts 2:1-21; John 20:19-23
“Would that all the Lord's people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit on them!"
Alleluia, Christ is Risen. The Lord is Risen Indeed, Alleluia!
And so we come to the end of the Easter season and the beginning of the long Pentecost season which extends over the next six months ending on Christ the King Sunday at the end of November. The last six months have included the seasons of Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Holy Week and Easter with the anticipation of the coming of the Messiah, the birth of Jesus Christ, the celebration of the sharing of the Good News of the Kingdom of God with all people, Jew and Gentile; a time of prayer, fasting and almsgiving as we ponder the significance of the Good News for you and me; and as we remember the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ and the gathering of the first Christian Community, culminating with the giving and receiving of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
The Holy Spirit is present from the beginning of God’s story with the spirit moving across the surface of the water like the wind, with God breathing his spirit into Adam and Eve in the creation story. In today’s Old Testament reading from Numbers, the people have been grumbling about a lack of water and food in the wilderness and Moses has been complaining to God about how difficult it is to lead these people. God has provided water, manna and
meat and still the people and Moses complain. So God takes some of the Spirit which has been upon Moses and moves it to 70 men selected to share Moses Leadership of the Hebrew people and they prophesy. A young man is surprised to learn that two other men also prophesy and Joshua demands that Moses stop them but Moses refuses saying, "Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the Lord's people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit on them!" God and the Spirit work in surprising ways, not working and doing as humanity expects.
In this morning’s reading from Acts, the spirit comes upon the gathered community of disciples and their families, the women who supported Jesus’ ministry and Jesus’ mother and brothers and their families like a violent wind storm with tongues of fire. They find that they are able to speak and the people and visitors to Jerusalem are able to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ in their native languages. In the Great Commission, Jesus has instructed his disciples to “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” As Jesus promised, God has provided the means to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom of Heaven to the ends of the earth, language, courage, and strength through the Holy Spirit.
We Episcopalians tend to be very wary of anything that seems too charismatic or supernatural, but we do invoke the Holy Spirit regularly in our worship at baptism and confirmation, ordinations and marriages, The Holy Eucharist and with blessings in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Turning to page 306 in the Book of Common Prayer, read the prayer for Thanksgiving over the Water.
Over [the water] the Holy Spirit moved in the beginning of creation.
In [water] your Son Jesus received the baptism of John and was anointed by the Holy Spirit as the messiah, the Christ, to lead us, through his death and resurrection, from the bondage of sin into everlasting life.
Through [water] we are reborn of the Holy Spirit. Therefore in joyful obedience to your Son, we bring into his fellowship those who come to him in faith, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Now sanctify this water, we pray you, by the power of your Holy Spirit, …
To him, to you, and to the Holy Spirit, …
I baptize you in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
(308) we thank you that by water and the Holy Spirit you have bestowed upon your servants the forgiveness of sin, and have raised them to the new life of grace. Sustain them, O Lord, in your Holy Spirit. … a spirit to know and to love you …
You are sealed by the Holy Spirit in Baptism and marked as Christ’s own for ever. Amen.
(309) At confirmation: …that by the sealing of your Holy Spirit you have bound us to your service. … Send them forth in the power of that Spirit to perform the service you set before them; …
Strengthen, O Lord, your servant, with your Holy Spirit; empower him for your service; and sustain him all the days of his life. Amen.
(369) In the Great Thanksgiving of Holy Eucharist at the epiclesis, we call down the Holy Spirit (paraclete) upon the bread and the wine. “We pray you, gracious God, to send your Holy Spirit upon these gifts that they may be the Sacrament of the Body of Christ and his Blood of the new Covenant. Unite us to your Son in his sacrifice, that we may be acceptable through him, being sanctified by the Holy Spirit.”
(533) Ordination: ‘Therefore, Father, through Jesus Christ you Son, give your Holy Spirit to Darlene; fill her with grace and power, and make her a priest in your Church.” At my ordination with the laying on of hands it was confirmed that I am not alone, I felt an overwhelming sense of not being alone. Although we may not “see” God or literally hear his voice, we know that God is with us always through His Spirit. Although Jesus has ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of God, we trust Jesus that he is with us always until the end of the age through the coming of the Holy Spirit.
(852) The Holy Spirit as defined in the Catechism
The Holy Spirit
Q. What is the Holy Spirit?
A. The Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Trinity, God at
work in the world and in the Church even now.
Q. How is the Holy Spirit revealed in the Old Covenant?
A. The Holy Spirit is revealed in the Old Covenant as the
giver of life, the One who spoke through the prophets.
Q. How is the Holy Spirit revealed in the New Covenant?
A. The Holy Spirit is revealed as the Lord who leads us into
all truth and enables us to grow in the likeness of
Q. How do we recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit in
A. We recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit when we
confess Jesus Christ as Lord and are brought into love
and harmony with God, with ourselves, with our
neighbors, and with all creation.
Q. How do we recognize the truths taught by the Holy
A. We recognize truths to be taught by the Holy Spirit
when they are in accord with the Scriptures.
(868) Historical Documents
V. Of the Holy Ghost.
The Holy Ghost, proceeding from the Father and the Son, is of one substance, majesty, and
glory, with the Father and the Son, very and eternal God.
For those who ask what we as Episcopalians believe about the Holy Spirit, tell them to read the Book of Common Prayer, to pray and understand the prayers of our worship services, and to read the Catechism and the Historical Documents. A large percentage of the Book of Common Prayer comes directly from the Bible which we believe contains all that is necessary for our salvation.
(853) The Holy Scriptures: Even here the catechism tells us that we believe the Bible was written by the people of the Old Covenant and the New Covenant, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. We call the Holy Scriptures the Word of God because God inspired their human authors and because God still speaks to us through the Bible. We understand the meaning of the Bible by the help of the Holy Spirit, who guides the Church in the true interpretation of the Scriptures.
At my graduation ceremonies from seminary we each received a cross with a verse picked specifically for us by our professors. My verse were Jesus words from John chapter 14 verse 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.”
Remember that God is with us always, that Jesus is with us always, through the work of the Holy Spirit.
The blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you, and remain with you always. Amen.
Continuing with The Renewal of Baptismal Vows as found on page 292, please stand as you are able: