Acts 2:01-11, John 14:23-31
In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Pentecost: A mighty, rushing wind; tongues of fire; an utterance given by the Spirit of the wonderful deeds of the Son to redeem mankind, which is heard and understood in the myriad languages of the many hearers; the Holy Spirit visible upon the heads of the Eleven in burning fire that does not consume.
They, the Eleven who watched Jesus ascend, are then anointed to be sent. From their mouths (and pens) the Holy Spirit reveals the Son and the Father. He – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – is the One who spoke to Moses from the bush that burned but was not consumed. He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob invoked by the Prophet Elijah to bring down fire from heaven. He overrides the rules and laws of nature to benefit and bless His people. It is He who created, who has redeemed, and who now sanctifies His people. For this purpose the Son, the Second Person of that most Holy Trinity, has become Flesh. We was nailed to the tree until dead, buried in a borrowed tomb, but is alive, risen out of that grave victorious, His mission complete. He has ascended in glory to the right hand of the Father. From Him and the Father proceeds this Holy Fire on Pentecost. He inspires the Apostles and through them converts men from dead works to serve the living God by bearing witnessing of the Son.
Thus the Church is born by the Word. Not by the passion or plans of men, but by Spirit-given utterance. That utterance changes lives. It draws half-men, sub-human sinners out of death, darkness, and chaos and into life, light, and order. It makes them men again, as men were meant to be: the crowning point of God’s creation, the focus of His adoration. This Word created all things. This Word separated the waters of the Red Sea. This Word is the blessing pronounced upon God’s people that Balaam in his greed was unable to resist. This Word felled the walls of Jericho. This same Word became Man, and dwelt among us that He might rescue and recreate us. This Word, born of Mary, is the Truth. He calls us to new birth, to new life. He is spoken by the Spirit of Truth who leads us into Truth, that is, into Jesus. This Word has accomplished what He was sent to do. He has not returned void to His Father but has processed there in glory leading captivity captive. The Bridegroom has fathered the Church by His Word.
Pentecost is the beginning of the end. It is the undoing of the curse of Babel, the reuniting of brothers and sisters divided by ethnicity, culture, economics, and language; diverse and separate, no more, but now, one in Christ Jesus who transcends all these other things. God has made a people for Himself. He has forged them in forgiveness, cleansed them with His Blood. The Spirit has called them with His Gospel: the life, the death, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He has gathered them by and around His Word. He has enlightened them with this Gift. And He sanctifies them in this, the one and only, Truth. He named them in Baptism with His own Name. He has declared them to be His people. He will not let them go. So it is that you are here today. You are the rightful heirs of Pentecost. You stand in the heritage of the Apostles. The Word of Pentecost, that blessed utterance given by the Spirit through the Apostles, is yours. And where is it? Where is this glorious, miraculous, powerful, life-changing utterance? In His Apostolic Word, that is, in the Bible. There we hear Him, the Word of Life, and hearing Him we hear the Father. We hear them by means of the Helper, the Holy Spirit, who inspired men of old to write the very words and the very thoughts of God thereby revealing God in His Grace and Mercy to us poor sinners. This Spirit is sent from the Father in Jesus’ Name. He speaks not His own Words, but the Son’s Words. And those Words are also the Father’s Words. For the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are one. Through the Triune rescuing Word of love the Spirit teaches us and reminds us what Jesus has said, who Jesus is, and who we are in Him. Thus, this Holy Spirit delivers peace.
Pentecost isn’t over. Even though we may not enjoy a rushing wind or tongues of fire or fluency in unlearned languages, by His Grace, in His providence, we still have His Word. We have the Good News of the wonderful works of God for us in our own language. We have the Spirit who entered into us in Holy Baptism and has been pleased to dwell in us for mercy’s sake, who has made us the sons and daughters of God. We have the Word made Flesh in the Flesh, which given for us to strengthen and nourish us, to sustain and encourage us. We have the shed Blood spilled by Calvary’s violence to appease God’s wrath. That Blood which enters into us speaks better things than that of Abel. It is the Blood of the Lamb who was slain but who lives, who ascended but who is here. It is for the remission of our sins.
Soon, all things written shall be fulfilled. All the elect will be sealed and Pentecost will be over. We will reside in our Father’s house where there is but one language, one song, one holy, no-longer waiting people! He will not ask us to endure a minute longer. But for now, while we wait, living in these Pentecost days of conversion and mission, we rejoice in the peace that is already ours. For this peace He gives, He does not give as the world gives. Which is to say, this peace passes all understanding and will never end. No, the peace will not end, but our suffering shall. The trumpet shall sound. The dead shall rise. Prophesy and preaching and Pentecost shall cease. What a happy day it will be!
In +Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Rev’d David H. Petersen
Redeemer Lutheran Church
Fort Wayne, Indiana