Sunday, 19 May 2013

Revelation 3 at Pentecost

Pentecost year C Sermon 

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name…the Spirit of Truth…
will teach you and remind you of everything I’ve said. [pause]

Jesus kept his promise.

On the day of Pentecost… those who gather in Jesus’ name for the Jewish festival of the Feast of Weeks
are visitedinspired …spiritually enflamed
right there in the Temple courts…in the sight and hearing
of every God fearing person present
And Peter…the forgiven betrayer
stands before the crowd…to preach...
to speak the truth… in the power of the Holy Spirit.

slide words
His exact words are…‘Let me speak freely to you’ [pause]

Now, it may seem a small thing…but in the course of
Peter’s first sermon on Pentecost
he’s inspired to choose his words very carefully…

when he asks the crowd to let him speak freely
he’s announcing a revolution is taking place…
a revolution empowered by the Holy Spirit.

The decisive Greek word that Peter uses …is parrhesia  And this word only ever appears…
once in all the Gospels…
But from the day of Pentecost
it suddenly flourishes right through the Acts of the Apostles.

This word ‘parrhesia’… is most often translated as "boldness," or "speaking openly," Guess what it means in the Roman Empire

Parrhesia signifies the right of Roman Citizens
to freedom of speech… in public places. It literally means
"the freedom to say anything."

So in Peter’s bold proclamation
the kingdom of God is asserting its sovereignty…over the powers and principalities of the world in which they stand.

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And as the early church is established…the freedom….
to speak the truth in the face of power…
will be exercised… by those who follow Jesus’…
with or without… the permission of Caesar.

From the day of Pentecost
Jesus followers exercise the freedom given
in their experience of the resurrection.
The freedom of another kingdom…gifted by the Holy Spirit.

In the stories of Jesus life…the promise of the Holy Spirit
is almost always linked…to conflict, controversy,
and persecution — and the ability to speak bravely and clearly… in the courts and before the thrones of power.

Remember the promise in Luke
where Jesus uses the same word… parhessia?

Slide words
Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Nothing is concealed that won’t be disclosed,
nor hidden that won’t be made known.
What you now say in the darkwill be heard in the daylight …and what you whisper in the inner rooms…will be
freely spoken from the roof tops.

Slide words
I tell you, my friends…Jesus says…don’t be afraid of those
who kill the body…after that they can do no more
When you’re brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities…don’t worry about how you’ll defend yourselves or what to say…for at that time the Holy Spirit will teach you… what you should say.

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This freedom isn’t the world’s to give or take away…
The freedom and the courage to speak freely in throne rooms and court rooms… and in the streets…
is imparted by the Holy Spirit of God

and the Sprit’s witness is to Jesus Christ and his good news.

And as we’re learning in our series on Revelation …
good news… is for everyone

You heard it in our reading this morning…I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches.
I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star. The Spirit and the bride the kingdom of God…the new Jerusalem... say, “Come!”

Slide words
And let the one who hears say, “Come!”
Let the one who’s thirsty come; and let the one who wishes …take the free gift of the water of life. [pause]
In the first century as for today…the truth…the message …the water of life… is Jesus Christ himself
God incarnate
who has announces the sovereignty of his Kingdom
over that of the Roman Empire… or Great Britain…
or the Taleban…over General Motors or Nike or Microsoft…

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In all the boardrooms and courtrooms and parliament chambers… whether cosmic or created…
the Truth to which the Spirit testifies …
is that Jesus Christ is the way that leads to life… [pause]

And remember before his ascension…Jesus warns his friends please… do not attempt anything under your own steam…
but wait in Jerusalem
on the one who will help you speak the truth. [pause]

Now you may have been misled about all this…
you may have been taught…
that you can tell the difference between people who’ve received the Holy Spirit and those who haven’t…

you may have been told… those who have
will speak or pray in tongues…otherwise they’re not legit …but in fact the Bible speaks of nine gifts
given to Jesus followers by God… through the Holy Spirit.

Slide words
Word of Wisdom…Word of Knowledge …Faith …Gifts of Healing …Working of Miracles …Prophecy …Discerning of Spirits …Diverse kinds of Tongues …and the Interpretation of Tongues

You see… even Faith itself is a gift

if you’ve ever trusted in God…if you’ve ever believed in what Jesus accomplished in his life and death and resurrection…

then you have been touched by the Holy Spirit

And the Spirit’s gifts aren’t given… for the entertainment
of crowds…Nor the enrichment of televangelists…
they aren’t given so we’ll be dazzled by signs and wonders……they’re given as they were… at Pentecost…

To strengthen in us…the courage to testify to Jesus
and his way of love, compassion and mercy and forgiveness.


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And why do we need courage…why do we need
the help of the Holy Spirit…to speak this truth?
Because in some places… it’s just as dangerous today
as it was the 1st century…public witness to the truth of Jesus … can get you locked up and even killed.

Here in the land of the long white cloud
it’s not usually so dangerous? But to speak the truth
that God’s kingdom is open to everyone who’s thirsty…
to say God’s grace is sufficient for even the worst sinner
that God’s forgiveness is freely offered

To speak the Truth that in God’s kingdom
there must be freedom for those who are enslaved by oppressive political and economic systems
that in God’s kingdom the poor will be lifted
and the least will be great.

When Jesus preached…
the spirit of the sovereign Lord was on him
…and the truth he spoke…was for the poor and the broken-hearted…the captive and the prisoner

Today if you stood up in parliament…
in the power of the Holy Spirit…
to proclaim the day of the Lord’s favour
you might be kicked out of your party

in some businesses you’d be sacked…even in some churches you might be shown the door

But… that’s precisely the truth we will say my friends …when we speak in the power of the Holy Spirit
to the powers and principalities of our world…!

X factor Judges slide
Can you imagine a handsome young man… carrying his guitar on X Factor on TV…his talent is…
to display the gifts of the spirit…
can you imagine him introducing himself

I stand here before you… because my Lord has anointed me with his spirit…to preach good news to the poor.
I’m here because he’s sent me
to bind up the broken-hearted,
proclaim freedom for the captives
release from darkness for prisoners,
To proclaim the year of the Lord's favour
and the day of vengeance… of our God...

A young Christian man speaking the truth…
bearing witness to the truth…in prime time

I can just see the judges sitting there…stunned before they call security. [pause]

But sadly… most of us aren’t that bold…
and neither were the disciples on the night Jesus was betrayed…they always had an excuse…

In John’s Gospel today Philip says
"Lord, show us the Father…and then we’ll be satisfied."

Just one more wonder Jesus… that’s all we need
and then we’ll be satisfied enough to follow you…
brave enough to speak out your word and work for your kingdom…then we’ll have the confidence to proclaim your good news…

And you can just hear Jesus sigh…
slide words
Have I been with you all this time and you still don’t know me? Whoever’s seen mehas seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'?

Slide words

Don’t you believe I’m in the Father and the Father’s in me? The words I say aren’t my own
but the Father who dwells in me does his works
If you don’t believe me… look at all the work I’ve done.

And Jesus promises those who believe in him
will do even greater things.

Slide words
I’ll ask… and the Father will give you another
to support and encourage your witness,
to be with you forever…the Spirit of Truth
And on my behalf…will teach you,
and remind you of everything I’ve said. And hey…

Slide words
I’m leaving you my peace… [pause]

And the upshot of all giving of the Holy Spirit
is the peace of Christ… Shalom…
wellbeing and justice for everyone.

A peace the world just doesn’t understand. So don’t let your hearts be troubled, and don’t let them be afraid. [pause]

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Yes, some of us may pray in tongues…I sometimes pray in tongues… particularly when I’ve run out of words
but need to keep praying…

occasionally I might receive a word of knowledge or a prophetic vision…and I may have a gift of healing
at least emotional healing…

most of all I’m glad to say by the grace I God
I have the gift of faith

And I promise you it’s a joy…to seek and receive the gifts of the Spirit…I encourage you with all my heart to seek them …but none of these gifts matter at all…unless they enable you and me…to enlarge the circle around Jesus Christ and speak his truth… in our church, our community and our nation.

If a group of you would like to pray for any of these gifts…
I’ll wait for you in the front pew after the service as others go to morning tea or continue to worship.
But for now let us all pray together…

Word slide
Create in us pure hearts, beloved God,
    Renew a steadfast spirit within us.
May we never find ourselves away from your presence
    or lacking the inspiration of your Holy Spirit.
Restore to us the joy of your salvation
    and grant us willing spirits, to sustain us.