Monday, June 9, 2014

Pentecost Sunday 2014

On The Evening of Pentecost Sunday I travelled to The Parish of Gander Bay to join the people of Holy Trinity for Worship.
It was a joy to share the Eucharist with them, and to deliver the sermon on Pentecost Sunday.

The Podcast Link is here

Sermon Notes for the Day of Pentecost.
Whenever I have taught about the Holy Spirit, or laid hands on a person who has asked for some sort of Spiritual Blessing,
 I have always wanted to get it right.
As I have gotten a bit older and have gone through a lot of ups and downs, I have become more and more of a realist in regard to life.
Life can through some hard things at us.
Never mind "can". It will, and it does.
Might I ask you to think about your own challenges?
Another thing that has happened to me as I have gotten older and have gone through a lot of ups and downs, is that I have
1. Less patience for religious platitudes and doctrines that allow us to say "there there"...Your problem is that you are not doing this the right way...or saying the right things.
I don't hear that a lot from people who suffer.
2. And...because I have experienced God's Grace  (in my own circumstances) in a very deep way, I long to share that in a way that is authentic and that is effective in the community around us.
The Community around us ....
There was a time when people came to the Church and said
Here I am.
I belong because generations of my family belonged.
Give me the rules
Give me the Book
Tell me what to do, and I will be a good Christian.
Today, that is not the case.  There has been a huge shift in the way people see the Church and Christianity.
Outwardly, sometimes I feel like people see the Church as a seller of Products such as Marriage, Baptism, funerals...etc. In some cases I think people think of me as an insurance salesman.
We all know that the cultural connections that once brought people to Church are no longer there.
It brings us all face to face with the question that Church people must ask themselves:
Am I a Cultural Christian OR am I a follower of Jesus, with a desire to  be like Him and do what He is leading us all into at  this point of History?
Don't think for one moment that the Church is going to die.
But do believe that God is working ,and changing, and challenging.
The institution is being challenged...Rather better to say the institution is being ignored by the world.
The world we live in contains a broad diversity in beliefs and practices, and has less understanding and desire  to engage sacred rituals, good works, and political and social activism. Many  people have been directed to think only of themselves.
How then do Christians hope to make a difference?
What is to become of Christian Identity in the world today?
My prayer is that the Church will be made up of people who have , a clear understanding of what they believe, and why it is important to them, and intentionally share it in an authentic way with others. To go from here, strengthened by worship, to actually sincerely live the faith in a world that can recognize insincerity a mile away.
I believe we are on the verge of a great adventure in the Church.
Churches that begin to take the mission seriously in this age of Science, Technology and  of people who have little time for unrational explanations and lack of sincerity are going to fulfill God's plan, and will be blessed.
Churches that are inward and self serving cannot survive any longer.
They wont survive.
If I might make a strong statement: (I believe I am quoting Richard Rhor here)
 God has grown accustomed to our small and cowardly ways of waiting behind closed doors of fear and self-doubt. God knows that we settle for easy certitudes instead of Gospel freedom, for a small god instead of a Big Mystery. Yet God seems surely determined to break through.
That bears repeating: Yet God seems surely determined to break through.
The largest challenge now, is that the Church has had all coverings removed, all doors opened ,and all pretences held naked before the world.
Jesus says once again: "Who do people say that I am?" 
What This excerpt from the Eucharistic Prayer #6 provides a beautiful reflection and teaching as to :
 1.What our motivation should be
2.Why we need the Spirit
3.And what the Spirit can do through the Church.
And that we might live no longer for ourselves,
but for him who died and rose for us,
he sent the Holy Spirit,
his own first gift for those who believe,
to complete his work in the world,
and to bring to fulfillment
the sanctification of all.
The  Holy Spirit has come to help us overcomes the obstacles  of
and of society . 
We need the Spirit to help us .
What shall be our answer?
Glory to God,
All whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more
than we can ask or imagine.
Glory to God from generation to generation,
in the Church and in Christ Jesus,
for ever and ever. Amen.