In this sermon on Holy Spirit power, we are challenged to experience the power of the Holy Spirit to become ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
Do You Understand?
I heard a report on the news a few days ago decrying the fact that less young people are studying languages at school. I don’t know about you, but I remember these reports from when I was at school! We were denounced as a lazy nation, content that English is such a widely-spoken language that we proudly thought we didn’t need to learn any other language.
The problem with this view, is when we come up against people that speak a language other than our own. How do we communicate?
The Holy Spirit comes at Pentecost
2 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: ‘Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs – we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!’ 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, ‘What does this mean?’
13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, ‘They have had too much wine.’
Peter addresses the crowd
14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: ‘Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
17 ‘“In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
18 Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.
19 I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood and fire and billows of smoke.
20 The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
21 And everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Acts 2:7 NEB
They were amazed and in their astonishment exclaimed, ‘Why, they are all Galileans, are they not, these men who are speaking?
What was remarkable about Jesus’ followers is that they were unremarkable. Ordinary. Run-of-the-mill. They were not the brightest and best. They were not high-powered leaders or intellectuals. They were ordinary folk. Good people.
Ordinary People with the Power to do Extraordinary Things
Acts 2:4 NEB
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to talk in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them power of utterance.
Normal, at least, until they were filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. When God pours out his Holy Spirit on them they become far from ordinary, they become extraordinary. Suddenly they had the power to take God’s mission to the ends of the earth. Suddenly they were enabled to preach God’s Word with power and to communicate in languages they didn’t even know themselves. Suddenly they were able to carry out signs and wonders - miracles of healing, of sharing finances amongst themselves and of community. Suddenly they had the courage to stand up to threats from the state and the beginnings of persecution. Suddenly, from a group that fell asleep when it was time to pray, and who thought that Jesus was going to launch a political coup against the Roman Empire, they could see that his Good News was for the Gentile world as well as the Jews.
United by their Experience of the Holy Spirit
Acts 2:5–6 NEB
Now there were living in Jerusalem devout Jewsdrawn from every nation under heaven; and at this sound the crowd gathered, all bewildered because each one heard his own language spoken.
And perhaps the most remarkable thing about this Pentecost experience of the power of the Holy Spirit is that it broke the barriers that have separated human beings from each other since Babel in the Old Testament. Pentecost reverses what happened at Babel when God confused humans by forcing them to speak different languages.
The Holy Spirit is our Pilot
What about us today? Are we full of the Holy Spirit? Both as a corps and as individuals? The early church seems to have been remarkably open to the dynamic and fluid way the Holy Spirit chooses to operate. It was the Holy Spirit who told them where to go. They allowed the Holy Spirit to tell them what to do. Questions about how to worship, who should lead the community, what kind of leadership that should be and how to relate to the community around them were all left to be answered by the Holy Spirit.
This sermon on Holy Spirit power reminds us we need the Holy Spirit! We need the experience of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in our own hearts and minds and in the heart and mind of this corps. It is the Holy Spirit who will remind us we are ordinary people. But he will remind us we are ordinary people with the power to do extraordinary things. It is the Holy Spirit who will continue to unify us in message and mission.
If you found this podcast sermon on Holy Spirit power helpful, would you please do something for me?
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