My friend Evan Garner, being the good Church Nerd that he is will hopefully find this next sentence very exciting. Evan Garner and David Lose have me thinking. In his post for today, Evan offers a quality reminder that even though 90% of sermons for Pentecost Day will focus on Acts 2, there is a deep and rich Gospel text ready and waiting to be mined as well. Meanwhile, in his post for Pentecost B, David Lose works out his own issue with the Gospel text, specifically the word Paraclete (Advocate), in light of the Acts lesson.
I will, no doubt, preach on Acts 2 this Sunday, but thanks to Evan and David, it won’t be without at least some temptation to deal with Jesus’ promise of the Paraclete in John’s Gospel. The more I think about it, the more I think I might even find a way to preach on both. The Holy Spirit that appears with power and might and leaves the crowd in Acts 2 totally blown away needs to be jived with the Comforter/Advocate that Jesus talks about in John 15. The Holy Spirit that works in the lives of the faithful, calling them out of their comfort zones, empowering prophets, lifting up leaders and voices for change, sending forth missionaries and reticent priests often doesn’t feel a whole like like she’s comforting us. No, when the Spirit is at work in your life, things get downright messy; sometimes even dangerous.
The Holy Spirit compelled Peter to stand up before a crowd of bewildered, sometimes sneering people and tell them that Jesus is the Messiah, that he was killed by those outside the law, and that God had bigger plans, bigger even than the promises he made to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, or Solomon. As one who steps into the relative safety of a pulpit on a regular basis, it is easy to take what Peter did for granted, but the reality is that what he did was shockingly risky. Jesus had been hung on a cross 53 days ago. The religious powers-that-be were still on edge about the whole Jesus movement, and Peter and the disciples continued to, rightfully, be scared for their lives.
As David Lose says in his blog, “We tend to think of the Holy Spirit as the answer to a problem, but what if the Spirit’s work is to create for us a new problem; that we have a story to tell, mercy to share, love to spread, and we just can’t rest until we’e done so!” That’s what the Holy Spirit of Acts 2 is all about. As I said earlier this week, the universal gift and call of the Spirit is to preach the Gospel in the language of our circle of influence., That’s pretty damn frightening. That’s why the Church is shrinking rapidly. We’re too afraid to share our story, too afraid to let the Spirit do her work in our lives, too afraid to offend someone.
The Paraclete that Jesus promises is literally, “one who comes alongside” and when she does, hold on tight because the ride is about to get rough, for the sake of the Gospel and the glory of God.