Sermon for Thursday before Pentecost – Br. David Allen
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As we draw near the Feast of Pentecost it is a time for us to think deeply about the gifts of the Holy Spirit given at Pentecost and what they mean for us as members of the Church.
Jesus in his discourse at the Last Supper promised that an Advocate would be given the disciples. He did not say much then. We know that in those words he was giving his disciples the promise of the Holy Spirit. Through their words it is given to us.
Just after the discourse in John’s Gospel is finished comes the prayer of Jesus to God the Father, Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer (Jn 17). The Gospel read today is part of this prayer. That prayer is primarily about the Glory shared by the Father and the Son. Considering what is written later about the Gift of the Holy Spirit given at Pentecost I have no doubt that the glory shared between the Father and the Son is also shared with the Holy Spirit in the fullness of the Trinity. If we can perceive it that glory is, in some way, shared with us through the Apostles’ ministry.
More about the gifts of the Spirit is found in Paul’s letters (e.g. Gal. 5:22ffthe fruits of the Spirit) and in other letters of the Apostolic Age.
Other examples of the gifts of the Holy Spirit are found in the Creeds of the Church and in the writings of the Fathers of the Early Church, in the prayers of the Liturgy of Holy Baptism, and in the ancient hymn, Veni Creator Spiritus, used at ordinations and other ceremonies that mark changes in the lives of those who respond to the call to God’s service.
Some of those gifts of the Spirit are seen in the prayer just after a Baptism;“sustenance in the Holy Spirit, an inquiring and discerning heart, the courage to will and to persevere, a spirit to know and to love God, and the gift of joy and wonder in all God’s works.” (BCP p.308)
When we pray for renewal of the gifts of the Spirit within us, it is not that the gifts are to be made anew. It is a prayer for our perception of the gifts of the Spirit to be renewed and refreshed within us. Our perception of God’s gifts and God’s glory can be renewed again and again.
In his high priestly prayer Jesus prayed that the disciples might also know unity in the glory that God gave to him.
As the Apostles of Jesus passed it on to us we also can find unity with God in the ministries God gives to each of us.
In what ways can you pray that your perception of God’s gifts may be sharpened and renewed?
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Thank you, Br. David, for this good homily. I am looking forward to tomorrow’s celebration of Pentecost. I know my perception of God’s gifts are sharpened and renewed through worship, through meditation, through prayer, and through fellowship with my Christian brothers and sisters.
I love the priestly prayer of Jesus in John 17, in which he prayed that the disciples may be one,
even as he is one with the Father. He asks that they (and we) may be protected from the evil one.
Oh, how we need His protection day by day!
May His spirit dwell in us and us in Him.