Sermon Preached at All Souls’ Episcopal Church, San Diego
Second Sunday of Easter: PS 118:14-29, Acts 5:27-32, John 20:19-31
“Holy Spirit You are welcome here, Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere. Your glory God is what our hearts long for, To be overcome by Your presence, Lord.” — These beautiful lyrics are from a popular contemporary Christian song by The Jesus Culture…
Holy Spirit “Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere”. What a visual that is for me…
In Acts and in the Gospel today, we see the power of the Holy Spirit moving in the lives of the disciples…giving courage, boldness, strength, guidance and new life in Christ. It overwhelms them with the power of the Presence of God.
Sometimes, we (myself included) think of the Holy Spirit only in terms of the New Testament…but the Holy Spirit has been moving in all things since, well, The Beginning.
This is the same Holy Spirit who swept over the face of the waters at the dawn of Creation.
The same Holy Spirit David begged God not to take from him after his transgression with Bathsheba.
The same Holy Spirit that was full of sorrow at the rebellion of the people of Israel that Isaiah passionately prophesied about.
The same Holy Spirit that was with John the Baptist, in the womb, before he was born.
Mary was overcome by the presence of this same Holy Spirit and conceived the Son of God.
Jesus assured his Disciples when they were persecuted and brought to trial for spreading the Good News, the words of this same Holy Spirit would be on their tongue.
There are over 111 mentions of the Holy Spirit in the Old and New Testament. The Holy Spirit was moving throughout God’s creation from Day 1-
Just one week ago from this podium, Fr. Joe declared “Alleluia! Christ has Risen! And we all boldly answered, “He is Risen INDEED! Alleluia!”
Today, John’s Gospel take us from that heady morning when Mary Magdalene discovered Jesus’ tomb was empty, and ran to tell Peter and John …who saw the empty tomb for themselves, and still did not understand, leaving Mary behind, crying. And then Mary meets two angels, and then Jesus himself- and he gives her information to pass on to the disciples…
Later that same day we find the disciples, in hiding, doors locked in their “safe house”- confused, depressed, afraid… John doesn’t tell us if they believed Mary’s story or not, but she is likely there too…
And then Jesus does an incredible thing- he miraculously stands before them, in spite of the locked doors and closed windows…in the flesh, alive!
Once the disciples let go of their fear and shock, they were giddy with relief and excitement!
After the jubilation had died down, and Jesus had shown them the wounds from the crucifixion, to prove to them it was REALLY him and not a ghost- he got right to it…not skipping a beat from death, resurrection, he goes right to Mission.
He tells them, in so many words, “No more hiding and crying and feeling sorry for yourselves…I have work for you to do- important work- work that is a matter of life and death.
“As the Father has sent me, so I send you” … I want you to spread the word, the Good News to all the world, about the love and forgiveness of God for all …” a dangerous assignment, given the religious and political environment at that time.
And then he equipped them with the Holy Spirit. The same Holy Spirit that gave life to creation, gave courage, power, boldness and guidance to David, Isaiah, John the Baptist, Mary, …and countless others. THAT Holy Spirit.
In Luke’s Book of Acts, we are brought into a scene where Peter and John are being hauled up before the Jewish High Council, for teaching about Jesus in Jerusalem, and for drawing crowds of people in towns all around Jerusalem for the healing of the sick and tormented; healing them all in Jesus Christ’s name. (Basically doing what Jesus instructed them to do).
They’d already thrown Peter and John into prison for their fearless and powerful preaching of the Good News …and when we see them here, they are fresh from being broken out of jail by an Angel of God, mind you, during the night, and, being told by the Angel to go right back-but to the Temple this time! And tell “the people the whole message about this life” and as soon as the sun came up, with resolve, with determination, there they went, into the danger-zone….and continued their teaching.
You can imagine the frustration and anger of the High Council. They might’ve thought, “These two guys, uneducated, ordinary men, fishermen, to be exact,
now speaking out in eloquence, knowledge and boldness,
they’re healing people from all over, drawing hundreds of people to this,
this Jesus movement…somehow escaping from our formidable prison, hoodwinking the guards, somehow …and they don’t seem afraid of anything…and now they openly defy the High Priest and Council by refusing to stop this nonsense which is really making us look bad.”
The Apostles, persecuted, beaten, imprisoned…yet they continue to preach Jesus as the Messiah.  Are these the same men who hid in an upstairs room, afraid for their lives? Fearful to unlock their doors or be seen in public?
In this short passage, Peter and the apostles fearlessly state to the Religious ruling powers in Jerusalem, that they will not obey men, only God. …and God, the Lord and Savior has given Israel the gift of a changed life and sins forgiven for all time…no more sacrifices, no more scapegoats. Jesus has done it once and for ALL.
And the Holy Spirit who is with all who obey him, gives testimony to the truth of what they are saying.
Yep. That’s what being equipped with the Holy Spirit does. Strength, courage, boldness, power, urgency- new LIFE…ready to burst with the Good News!
The fact of the matter is, Brothers and Sisters, that same Holy Spirit lives in each of us from the moment we are baptized.
When is the last time you have felt your heart longing for the Presence of God in your life?
When is the last time you’ve prayed for strength and courage to walk through a difficult or heart-breaking time?
When have you asked God for the words to say to comfort or console or convert a loved one?
Come FLOOD THIS PLACE…and fill the atmosphere!
We are equipped. We are called, by name.
“As the Father has sent me, now I send you.”
Let us call upon the Holy Spirit to give us the courage, boldness and power to fearlessly proclaim the Good News to the Glory of God, as we leave this place today…to a world that so desperately needs it.
Let us call upon the Holy Spirit to light a fire within us… to fill the emptiness in our hearts and lives with the presence and love of God…to fill it so full…it overflows to others…let us be ready to burst with the Good News…
“Holy Spirit You are welcome here, Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere. Your glory God is what our hearts long for, To be overcome by Your presence, Lord.”