Whitsunday sermon June 9th Fr. Michael Cawthon
Sermon Whitsunday (Pentecost)
As the law, / given 50 days after their Exodus from Egypt brought together the twelve tribes of Israel
under a common moral standard – a law,
thus this day we celebrate the spirit’s coming, 50 days after the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
to the twelve Apostles to guide Christ’s Church as He has ascended.
The Apostles, worn out by the peaks and valleys,
of being with and seeing Christ,
to being without Him, only for Him to return again…
But it appears that they were no longer miserable and defeated as they had been before…
for it was their Lord who had told them
of the coming of the Holy Ghost…
Jhn 14:26 KJV – 26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost,
whom the Father will send in my name,
he shall teach you all things,
and bring all things to your remembrance,
whatsoever I have said unto you.
They had by now even replaced Judas with Matthias to join their apostleship before the descending of the Holy Spirit upon them…
During Advent and Christmas I spoke often of God’s love
for each one of you…
During Lent and Easter I spoke of our hearts and how they must be softened,
emptied of the secular world…
During the ascension we spoke of being of unity of place, of prayer, and in Christ’s sacraments…
Today’s Collect also speaks of “the hearts” of “thy” faithful people receiving of the Holy Spirit…
and today’s Epistle speaks of the “cloven tongues” sitting upon each Apostles
who then went out and began to preach the Gospel…
and the people all heard with them speak / in their own languages.
It is constantly said in business that you cannot stand still – you are either moving forward or falling behind (and this statement is mostly true.)
As well, it is said if you do the same thing over and over, why would you expect a different outcome (?) – (this statement is also mostly true.)
What do these things have to do with Church?
This week I was sent a copy of a “facebook” post from a couple in Louisiana
speaking of their concern for the “empty pews” within their church (and churches in general.)
And in the final paragraph it states the sight of the empty pews just “breaks their hearts.”
Without knowing it, they specified the cause of the empty pews – empty hearts (corrupted hearts) lead to empty pews.
My friends – today we celebrate the birth of the church…
as the tongues of fire: “filled them with the Holy Ghost.”
So let us look at this event through a few verses of the Gospel writing of St. John (todays Gospel…)
Jesus starts off with the fundamentals:
in verse 15 of the 14th chapter He tells his apostles
“If ye love me, keep my commandments.
And I will pray the Father:”
This connection suggests that the proper temple for the indwelling Spirit of Jesus, is a heart filled with love to Him
which causes one to live actively for Him,
as preparation for the promised gift of the Holy Ghost to come to them and us!
You shall receive another “Comforter–an “advocate,” “patron,” or “helper.”
The Spirit is the One who would supply Christ to His Church, in His absence,
Keeping His promise that He would “abide with (us) you forever,” never going away.
And then, it is Jesus who tells us that it is He
“17. whom the world cannot receive (for they cannot see,)
This a gift to you (of seeing Him), is through Jesus dwelling within your hearts
as He is in each of you;
do you hear what He is telling each of us?
THE SEED of this great blessing is already at work within each of you.
The Apostles (thus us) are promised in John 18-20.
“I will not leave you comfortless” — in a bereaved, desolate condition, as “orphans”
for He does come plainly by the Spirit;
remembering the words of Mat 28:20
“lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
And he speaks of: (19)
the world seeth—beholdeth me no more, but ye see— thus behold.
“me”– His bodily presence, being all the sight of Him which “the world” ever had, or was capable of,
“beheld Him no more”
after His departure to the Father;
but by the coming of the Spirit,
the presence of Christ was not only continued
to His spiritually enlightened disciples,
but rendered far more effective and blessed.
I live, does not mean “shall live,”
but I live that “ye shall live also” “Knowest thou not(?),”
The comforter, which is the Holy Ghost…
shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance…
And through this He gives us the greatest gift which we all seek…
My peace I give unto you,
not as the world giveth, give I — unto you.
The peace of Christ, given unto you…
But we must remember His Words as well:
“If ye love me, keep my commandments.”
Thou shalt love God
Thou shalt love thy neighbor…
From these two simple laws hangs everything.
So I must ask myself and you,
if you love God first,
why would we place him second, third, fourth, and even lower on our priority list each day.
Why are excuses found to avoid his House of worship,
thus providing the empty pews.
If you want to be in the pew,
then your heart must yearn and even ache for it…for it is your seat before Him…before HIS REAL PRESENCE.
It is your seat within His Nave…within His Ship…
The new Ark…
In which we all row together this ship of which He steers.
If not in the pew, within the nave, we are tossed about by the raging and unforgiven sea about us.
My beloved family, if we want to nurture our hearts to Him,
we all need to examine our hearts, our Jewish brothers call it the nephesh – one soul and life.
If we are filled with desires of this world of sex, drugs, covet’ness, of grudging one another, and unforgiving one another:
then they will be full but not with the love for Christ (If ye love me, keep my commandments)
but of things that do not glorify Him and often are of this world of darkness.
Such darkness and confusion leads our hearts away from Christ and His Church (yes His pews…)
It is His Church, with all Her Sacraments that awaits to shed light upon all darkness,
within it is wisdom to lead one out of confusion, into the way of truth.
Yes, the empty pews do show how far we have to go.
This day: Invite the Spirit into your heart and the heart of your family:
listen to and speak constantly of His word,
walk in His ways and speak in your tongues “of the wonderful works of God.”
Let not one person sit amongst you and hear not,
and see not,
the wonderful works of the Holy Spirit within your lives
and within the walls of His Church and our faith in Him.
Feed your heart, soul, and mind with His Body and His Blood,
be strengthened that you may walk closer with Him in the days ahead.
Jesus says in Luk 12:49:
I am come to send fire on the earth
Luk 12:48 … AND
For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required:
Allow Him to enter and kindle your heart…
for when the earthly man heart kindles to the love of God,
the coldness of the fleshly hearts subsides
as the warmth of God’s love
directs and protects
your flesh and your soul…
yes, even your hearts
If we fill the heart, he will fill our pews.
the hour cometh and now is…..