The Spark and the Sparkle of the Holy Spirit
June 12, 2011
The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor
Montgomery United Methodist Church
John 14: 16
What a day we are celebrating today!
It is the day of Pentecost!
Letís remember what happened back then.
At Easter, the amazed disciples encountered the risen Christ. He had a body that was absolutely miraculous and mysterious. After He had risen from the dead, He was recognizable, and yet, His body could pass through solid doors. He could eat with the Disciples, and then vanish from their sight. It was a remarkable phenomenon. There were no words to describe this Easter body; but the disciples were absolutely sure of what they had seen. They had seen Jesus in His Resurrected body.
But now, here came the problem. Jesus took the Disciples up to the Mount of Ascension and said, ďI am going away from you for awhile. I have to do this, because if I donít ascend to the Father, we canít go on to the next step. A little while and the world will not see me; but you will see me.Ē What could He mean? What was this all about?
We are told in the Bible that Jesus was ascended into Heaven and that the Disciples just didnít know what to do. They went to the upper room, huddled together in fear, and drew the blinds closed. It was like they were hiding and pulling blankets over their heads. What now, they wondered. What will we do without Jesus?
But then on that Pentecost morning, something remarkable happened!
It was predicted in the mysterious 14th chapter of John. This chapter is a treasure box of Scriptural ideas. The 16th verse says:
16 And I will pray the
Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever,
17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you.
18 "I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you.
These were remarkable words of Jesus Christ predicting what would happen on this day, on Pentecost. So what happened? He ascended into Heaven. Then there was this time of chaos, turbulence and fear. But then, He made His promise come true. Jesus came back in the form of the Holy Spirit!
The disciples couldnít describe what they had seen on Pentecost. It was like light, like radiant energy. It was energy that was fluttering in the air like a dove, energy that came like brightness upon the head of each one of them. It was the energy of God filling each one. It changed them from being in a state of fear and panic to a state of fearlessness and enthusiasm. That is what happened on the first Pentecost Day and that is something to celebrate. May I have an Alleluia? (Congregation responds with Alleluia) May I have an Amen? (Congregation responds with Amen)
The Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ was changing fear into energy, changing sadness into joy. That is what happens when the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ comes to us. It was a remarkable day. They said that there was the sound like a rush of a mighty wind. It was like the swirl of everyone saying ďA-ha!Ē all at once! They were all taken up with an experience of Community insight.
Have you experienced the spark of the Holy Spirit? Maybe the whole idea of life with God as a joy is a real possibility. Maybe there is something that happened to you that defied description other than that of God? Maybe you wake every morning like I do, amazed and just glad to be here! The message underlying Pentecost is that Jesus did not leave them orphans. He did not leave them hopeless. He came back. Why? Because He loved them and He loves you and me. Have you experienced the spark of the Holy Spirit? I pray that you do!
I invite you to think for a moment about the folks who help put the spark in your heart. Who are they? Was it a Sunday School teacher whose love and guidance blessed you in a powerful way? Was it your Mom and Dad? Was it a religious leader you knew when you were younger? Who was it that brought the spark of the Spirit to you? Maybe it was someone who faced adversity with such courage that you could not help but see the spark of the Lord in them. I invite you to think of them now and give thanks.
There have been so many in my life. But this morning I would like to lift up for you the Congregation of the First United Methodist of Rahway, the Congregation I served as organist and choir director when I was 18. These were people who were so in love with Jesus that they invited me to Communion, even though I was not part of their congregation. They invited me to their picnic, even though I was not part of their group. They shared their love for each other and their love for me in the spirit of Jesus Christ.
I joined that church when I was 19. When I made my decision to enter the ministry, I promised them that, wherever I went, I would try to take the spirit of love and graciousness and faith that I found in their midst, and bring it with me. Their love for God, for Jesus, and for each other, stirred the spark of the Holy Spirit in my heart.
Most of the members of that congregation have gone to be with the Lord now. But the spirit of their hearts lives on in you and me. I am eternally grateful to them.
Now it is our turn. I invite you to go into the world knowing that Jesus lives in you. May the people you meet be filled with wonder and a little healthy envy at the joy you find in Jesus. May the sparkle of God radiate from your joyful spirit. You may be the only spark of the spirit that some people may ever see. This week, may you experience the spark of the Holy Spirit in your heart, and may it cheer everyone around you.
God loves you. I do, too. Have a blessed week. Amen.
© 2011 Anthony J. Godlefski