June 5, 2022 Day of Pentecost The text is John 14:8-17 (25-27).
8 Philip said to [Jesus,] “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. 1 2Very truly, I tell you, 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 am going to the Father. 13 I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.
1 5“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. 17 This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.
25 “I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 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. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to You, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.
Grace, mercy, and peace are yours from God the Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Here is a multiple-choice question; “Which of these is required for a baptism?”
A-Water. B-A Minister. C-The Holy Spirit. D-Baptismal candle. E-All of the above.
I’ve posed this question to every confirmation class I’ve ever taught. And, nearly all of the confirmands get the answer wrong. Most pick “all of the above”; and to be honest, since all the items listed tend to be present at baptisms, it’s not surprising that so many young people (and, I dare say some “Cradle-Lutherans”) fall for this trick question. The truth is, that all that is needed during the baptism of a person into God’s family is the presence of the Holy Spirit. This same Holy Spirit, the Advocate that Jesus asked God to send to his disciples, and to us, is the one we call upon to be present at baptisms, and whenever God’s people gather together.
Jesus comforts his disciples with the reassurance that the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth will always be with them; in fact, Jesus tells them that the Spirit will “abide” in them. And, because the Spirit abides in them, Jesus does also. The dictionary offers quite a few synonyms for “abides”. How reassuring is this thought, that Jesus, by the presence of the Holy Spirit “dwells”, “continues,” “endures” within us al! But let’s focus on the definition that best describes the relationship we have with this Spirit of truth; Jesus, through the presence of the Holy Spirit “lives” within us.
Furthermore, Jesus proclaims that, “I am in the Father and the Father is in me”. Thus, with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit within us, God and Jesus are both present in each of God’s children. And it is with this presence of the Divine that we are enabled to accomplish all that we are commanded. Note that once again, Jesus assures the disciples that he leaves them his peace. And it is through this peace and with the truth of the Holy Spirit to guide us that we are empowered to undertake the work that is assigned to us. Jesus promises that those who believe in him will be able to do even greater works than he, himself has done. All these we are able to as we are sustained, motivated, and strengthened through the action of this Spirit which lives within us all.
In his Small Catechism explanation of the Third Article of the Apostles’ Creed Martin Luther writes, “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith. In the same way He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith”.
Luther makes it clear, then that without the Holy Spirit serving as our guide and motivator, that on our own, we are not able to accomplish that which we are called to do. In fact, it is Luther’s contention that it is only through the call of the Holy Spirit are we even able to come to faith in Christ. We can’t even believe in Jesus as our Savior if it were not for the action of the Spirit which Jesus sent to bring us to faith.
So that pretty much solidifies the understanding that it is the activity of the Holy Spirit that is at work when baptisms are celebrated. It is through the faith that has been granted by, and the presence of, God’ and Jesus’ Advocate on earth that we welcome new members into God’s family. So, while “all of the above” as an answer to the confirmation class question are nice thing to have, it is only the Holy Spirit which is present and is at work among God’s people that is necessary for Sacrament of the church which we shall soon perform. We will acknowledge the presence of the Holy Spirit and call upon her blessing of Delaney, Callan, and Joseph as we welcome them into the Christian faith.
Together, they will become the newest members of the church of God; blessed, welcomed, and accepted as God’s precious children; promised life abundant in this world and life eternal in the one to come. Collectively, we will make promises to support, help, and nurture these children as they grow in faith. We all have an important task before us; parents, sponsors, and this assembly. We are given the responsibility of ensuring that Laney, Callan, and Joey receive all they need to develop lives of faith and trust in God. And, this may be a challenging role for us to fulfill, knowing that there are forces in this world that would seek to thwart our efforts to protect and nurture these newest members of the family.
And it is not an undertaking that we enter into lightly, for we know it can be tough to hold fast to the promises we make. But we don’t have to go it alone; in fact, we are definitely not alone in our efforts to care for these little ones, as well as all of God’s children. For, this same Holy Spirit who is present at their baptism, remains present with them, and within us all, always.
Jesus has sent his Advocate to abide in us, to live within each of our spirits, as individuals and as the wider family of God. So, separately and together we are equipped to serve as the nurturers, providers, and protectors of all who have been blessed by the Holy Spirit to be known as God’s children. We may not feel tongues of fire resting upon us, there may not be a mighty rushing wind, and we’re not likely to begin speaking in other languages on this Day of Pentecost. But we have received the Holy Spirit, nonetheless; for Jesus proclaims that the Advocate has been sent to each of us and we know this to be truth. So, all we need to do is to acknowledge that we are gifted the Holy Spirit and that the task of nurturing, providing, and protecting, in the end won’t be that difficult. After all, we’re not doing it by ourselves, we are supported by the One who abides within us.
Will you pray with me? Good, and gracious, and Holy God, we know that we have work to do, that we are called to tend to those whom you have placed in our care. Help us to be a blessing to all in need, and to recognize all your children for who they are, precious in your sight. And we pray these things in the name of Jesus Christ, the One who calls us to care for all your children and who sends us your Holy Spirit to be our guide, inspiration, and Comforter.
God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good. Amen