Pentecost. John 14: Ari Savuoja Sermon at St. Luke s Chapel, 15 May 2016 Translation into English by Bastian Fähnrich. Gospel: John 14:23-29

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1 Pentecost John 14: Ari Savuoja Sermon at St. Luke s Chapel, 15 May 2016 Translation into English by Bastian Fähnrich Gospel: John 14:23-29 Jesus replied, Anyone who loves me will keep my word [obey my teaching]. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. You heard me say, I am going away and I am coming back to you. If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. Today we spend Pentecost. We celebrate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. On the first Christian Pentecost the Holy Spirit began to work and the first church came into being. Before Christ died, Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit will continue his work after his death. The Holy Spirit, therefore, continues to do the same work that the Lord did while he was alive on earth. Our Lord himself says of the Holy Spirit according to John 16:14:

2 "He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you." The Holy Spirit's primary task is to show the Lord Jesus, his teaching and satoning work on our behalf! Our Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit, therefore, operate in the same cause, for the benefit of us. Our Lord wanted all the best for us about 2000 years, he wanted to love us, to advise and to comfort us and to forgive us our sins in accordance with God the Father. Today, 2000 years later, the Holy Spirit wants the same. And we Christians are his co-workers! Our Lord said in the Gospel text that we just read, in verse 24: these words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. Based on this we can see that the Holy Spirit was originally the Spirit of Father-God! God says in His word that His essence is love and holiness. The good and holy will of God the Father was made know to us by Jesus Christ, when he was born into the world. The Holy Spirit continues the work of our Lord He does not testify for Himself but gives testimony of Christ. And Jesus, in turn, is a testimony to us about everything that the Father-God is and works for! We, the people of today s world, are living now in the time of the Holy Spirit. Our Lord is no longer visibly present among us, but he is with us in the presence of the Holy Spirit. Did you hear what Jesus said immediately at the beginning of the Gospel text: Anyone who loves me will keep my word." This is where Jesus is present! Our Lord and His will is therefore clearly revealed in His Word, in the word preached, in the word sung, in the word of prayer in all the word that brings out the good will of our Lord to us: it can be both the word of the law and Gospel; it can be both life-

3 protecting commandments and guidelines for life and the message of forgiveness and grace. God's Word is being confirmed by the so-called "visible words." Visible words which are not just spoken or heard but felt or experienced in other ways: I mean holy baptism and holy communion. By means of the aforementioned kinds of visible words we can feel and see how our God and Lord wants to support and guide us in our lives. And how he wants to comfort and defend us from evil, sickness and sin, which is in the world and in ourselves. Do you want to have anything to do with the Spirit of God? I hope you will, because it is He who keeps our faith alive and gives us what we need. So be involved with the Word of God. Read the Bible often, sing spiritual songs, engage in prayer, take part in holy communion. Go oftentimes to places where the word of God is visible and present. And then the Holy Spirit will take care of you, comfort and lead you always. Do you ever feel that your faith is dry or maybe even dying altogether? Do you feel sometimes that do not feel like praying? Or do you feel that God is far away from you? Of course, there are more ordinary days than extraordinary ones in the life of a child of God! And sometimes there are also dark days. That is quite normal. But: sometimes the reason for a draught or dry period in your faith may be the fact that you are not engaging with the Word of God, you do not let the Holy Spirit nourish you in other ways: and thus the Holy Spirit can not do His own work: Then the Holy Spirit can not keep your faith alive and strengthen it.

4 The word of God and prayer are the breath of our life in faith. If we don not breathe, we can not live. The word of God is nourishment for our faith. Without it, our faith will die. If we do not read the Bible and pray, we close the channel, which the Spirit of God is using. If the channel is closed, it is no wonder that our faith dries up and that it may eventually die altogether. We may also say that in our lives we may drift away from the way of faith: we may end up in a ditch, if we do not let the Holy Spirit guide us. But, as we remember, on the other side of the road there is also a ditch in which we can fall into: sometimes we fall into this ditch, if we keep going through life depending too much on our feelings. Of course, feelings are important to us, for without them we would be more dead than alive! So it's good that we live by our feelings, and to recognise and to express them! But when we depend too much on our feelings, we may fall short of God s way; for example, we may think wrongly that the Holy Spirit is present only when we somehow feel or feel somewhat special about it. Or that the Holy Spirit is only there when something miraculous happens when the sick are being healed through a miracle, or when other wonderful or powerful events take place. Or when there is an unusually compelling preacher (I'm not one?). Or when something or someone stirs our inner feeling in an unusual way. Yes, the Holy Spirit works all the wonders as our Lord did: healing of the sick and comforting of people. Yes, expereinceing something like this makes us surely also feel good. But it is important to note that the mere feeling good is not a guarantee of the Holy Spirit. For instance, sometimes we do feel particularly good when we are satisfying our own psychological needs. Or, another example: the healing of diseases

5 is no guarantee of the Holy Spirit, because the evil spirit can also do miracles according to the Bible. But how can we then be sure about the Holy Spirit s presence? Of course, we can recognise it based on the fruit(s) of the Holy Spirit. The Apostle Paul lists the fruit(s) of the Spirit in Galatians, chapter 5, verses 22-23: "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." Where these fruits can be found, there's the Holy Spirit doing its work! The fruits of the Holy Spirit are not growing in any particular tree, but they are supposed to grow and be shown to the world through us people, us Christians. Do you want to increase the fruit(s) of the Holy Spirit? The live your life in such a way that it shows plenty of, as much as possible love, joy, and peace. Relate to other people patiently, kindly, and with as much good will as possible. Live according to the good will of God, be faithful, gentle, and full of self-control. This will show that the Holy Spirit is at work in and through you! Note that you do not necessarily see the fruits produced. If you were to see these, you might want to eat them yourself! But the fruits are intended for others, not for ourselves! At the end of today s Gospel text we read that our Lord would leave us peace! Verse 27: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives." This is the peace we have with God, because the Lord brought us forgiveness! God's holiness can not tolerate any injustice or evil. It is me and you who have done evil in many ways and thus we are in principle not accepted into God s presence. Moreover, as sinners we are lost in and with ourselves. But thanks to Jesus Christ we can come into the presence of God, because he has forgiven our sins before God. Therefore, we have peace with God! And everyone may believe that God s peace is meant for each of us, you and me!

6 That is why we also want to share the good fruit of the Spirit to other people with whom we live. We want to make peace with them too. We want to ask for forgiveness and to forgive. In this way, peace will increase in our lives. Let s pray: Almighty God, our Heavenly Father. Thank you for giving us your Holy Spirit to enlighten, comfort and advise us, your people. Thank you for sending the life-giving Spirit among us in your Word. Thank you that He reminds and teaches us to keep your word, all things that You, Lord Jesus, have spoken to us. In particular, he reminds us to keep your commandments, to love God above all things and our neighbour as ourselves. In addition to this, he reminds us of the great commission, to spread the Gospel to all the world. Let the gospel message be spread all over the world, until all the peoples praise You, God, in their own languages, of the gift of salvation. Amen.

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