5/27/07, Pentecost Sunday and Memorial Day
“God in Us”
ne of the greatest demonstrations of power our family saw during our camping trips through the great 48 was the lights of Las Vegas. We had driven hundreds of miles through the high desert up out of Death Valley, and then off in the distance we began to see a city. As we drew nearer we knew it was the great oasis. How could such a city exist in the middle of the desert? Later that night when neon lights lit the sky we really wondered how could such a power source exist in this wasteland? As we headed east our questions were answered when we caught a glimpse of Hoover Dam. Millions of kilowatts of electricity are generated every minute of every day from the harnessed waters of the mighty Colorado River. The four of us got out of the car all wanting to get a closer look at the great power source. We could feel a slight vibration through our shoes as we came to understand the miracle of harnessed power put to a practical use of generating electricity.
At times all Christian Pilgrims feel as though we are drying up in a desert place. In those times we need to think of the power source that God has promised to us through the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God in us is our Hoover Dam. We have the Holy Spirit of God Almighty in us and therefore we can always make it through the toughest problem if we will plug into the power outlet. God continually imputes spiritual power ever minute of every day. But sometimes we leave the power switch turned off.
This Sunday our theme is spiritual power because today we celebrate Pentecost. God had promised to send a Comforter, one who would give power and support for those who belong to Jesus.
Last Thursday was Aldersgate Day, as we celebrated the day when new fire power entered John Wesley’s heart. After Wesley's soulful experience of the presence of God's Spirit in his life John Wesley's ministry took on a new power that not only founded Methodism, but also the great Evangelical Revival that gripped the hearts of much of England, and the world. Wesley must have experienced the Liturgical Day of Pentecost as he opened his heart to a new spiritual power and received a new level of ministry. This Sunday it’s the flames of Pentecost. One fire started our Methodist movement, and the Pentecostal flames ignited the Christian Church. Without Aldersgate the world would have been denied the Wesleyan Revival: Without Pentecost the world would have not likely survived.
Our text from the book of John finds the disciples waiting on the power of the Holy Spirit, just as Jesus had instructed them to wait. Then, in God’s own time, the Power was turned on. That same Power is available to every believer today. But sometimes we act though we do not know it. We continue to light our houses with candles, draw our water from a well and chop wood for our cook stove--- when all the while we are wired for power. All we have to do is call the electric company and wait just a little while for them to come turn the power on.
We sometimes seem to delight in suffering without the Power. My Daddy used to tell the true story of a wealthy miser in Asheville who had a car but was too cheap to buy gasoline, so he would revert to hitching up his mule to his automobile. The mule provided power, but far less than would a gasoline powered motor.
Sometimes we seem afraid of the Power. My Grandmother Sides use to tell us how her neighbors first thought that electricity would burn down their houses so they continued to stumble in the darkness. This Power form on high is a gift of God--- it is the free gift of His inner friendship, His guidance, and His Power, His cleansing; it’s to be sought, not feared.
Four from our family worshiped at Evensong with St. Paul's Cathedral in London on Saturday a week ago. It is the church where Wesley continued to attend often and serve as a fellow Anglican Priest. Many Anglicans were threatened by Wesley's conversion and his preaching outside of consecrated ground. His message was that persons needed their own power source and were not to count on power from any other source.
God's offer to us is more than a sweet little lovely feeling, it’s the power to change human lives and, through them, the world. And where the world has experienced any level of righteousness at all, it has been as a byproduct of the righteous people in it. How do we have a better social order? By producing better people! And how else can that happen than through the power of salvation?
Some folks have found out that it is possible to get along without power. The Unibomber existed for years in a hidden one room cabin without any electricity. The hippies of the 1960’s tried to reject modern conveniences, like baths, and electricity; but, nowadays many of them are stockbrokers, teachers and preachers. Is there any possible why we would want to try to go through life without the spiritual power that God has for us? Yet, some seemingly only want a nickel's worth of religion. A nickel will not take you far, will it?
God knew that in order for his plan of reaching every human heart to occur his disciples would need a massive dose of his power and an inner assurance of salvation. In a sense, their seeing the resurrected Jesus gave them a sense of certainty and power. But God wanted them to have even more than that: He wanted them to become the best that they could possibly be. He wanted them to have power to carry the good news to every corner of the globe. And God wants us to have that same spiritual power and assurance.
Finally, How do we begin this journey toward spiritual discovery and development? Well, all things spiritual begin and end in prayer. But you say how do we begin to pray like the waiting saints at that first Pentecost? It's Simple; we wait and we pray, and when we have it we will know it.
Actually, I have come to believe that all of us were created with a hunger for the Spirit. When the saints of the early churches began to go out into the Mediterranean world and into southern Europe and soon to Rome, they met with people who were seemingly waiting on them. All they had to do was to stand up and explain what God had done in Jerusalem and millions gave their hearts to Him. Still today the world is waiting to have it explained how they can receive God's Spirit turned on in their lives.
My personal devotional experience begins, not with prayer, for I sometimes am not in the mood to pray at first--- instead I begin by reading the Bible, then suddenly I am in communion with my Heavenly Father. I sometimes do as John Wesley did by randomly opening the Book putting my finger down and started reading. After many years of doing this I am at home in the Word and am never lost. However, I am always surprised by Grace as the Spirit bears witness with my spirit in reading and brings out new light. Then in prayer the conversation becomes more intimate. My Father knows my prayers before I say them. However, in the groaning times, in the painful times, amid the hard places and the rocks, there comes the greatest spiritual experience of life and a wonderful communion with my Lord.
It is the Power of God, through the Spirit that produces "God in Us."
sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor