Tag: breath of God

Breathe: Confirmation Message

SermonPentecost Day
Pentecost Day, Sunday June 8, 2014.
St Petri
10.30am Service – Confirmation Day

John 20:19-23
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”
After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

PLAY MEDIA FILE “breathe.wmv”     [wpvideo JI9UBriR]

Yes, breathe Holy Spirit! Breathe into us and speak your word that heals this broken ground”. Breathe life and vision and power and peace into these young people today for the journey ahead. Say, what you will, Living Spirit of Christ, that we breathe in the very breath of our God today”.

That’s our prayer for you today, kids. It is a prayer about breathing…in and out: breathing in and breathing out in God’s presence and power….

That sure is what those frightened followers of Jesus needed the night they were out of breath, locked in that upper room very unsure of themselves and what they will become – if they even have much of a future after they saw him die that horrible death and after they had let him down so plainly and shamefully.

And then the ghost they think they see is no ghost but a man – a human being with his voice, his wounds, his character, his face – it IS him and everything he said was for real! Everything we have been through to this point is worth it. Everything we hope for ourselves and our futures remains possible.

And then he speaks. He speaks those simple but profound and deep words that heal the broken ground in our head and heart. “Peace be with you”.

They are the only words that count today for you, like it was for them. “Peace be with you”. As he breathes his life into your heart and mind by his Word now, he says what you have now – Peace: Peace with me, peace with you, peace with us, peace with Him, peace, peace, peace!

• When you are torn apart by a bully: Peace
• When you are worried about failing: Peace
• When you are putting on a show to be somebody you are not: Peace
• When they are fighting again: Peace
• When you lose someone or something loved: peace
• When you have no idea what’s next and if you can do it: Peace

Peace, peace, peace. And not peace you find in yourself of down the mall or on-line, or all by yourself, but His Peace: real peace; peace beyond yourself – longer, higher, deeper, fuller. Peace that crosses all the boundaries and streams out into every place and scene and person…Peace that goes where you go and stays where you stay.

YOU HAVE PEACE.
Such simple words for you: but life-giving and life-shaping because of who says it now.

It took all of his being born, growing up, learning, teaching, healing, suffering, loving, copping the pain and being completely lonely and in huge physical, emotional and spiritual pain to say those words. “Peace be with you”.

Only he can say this really. It is the peace he won for us and the peace that comes from him that gives us patience, poise and real promise. He won it. He earned it for us and now freely gives it away to all. He is our peace with God and with each other.

So, young people, you have his peace. You got the first breath of it when you were baptised into Christ. it was then that you were sealed with the Spirit’s power and peace in Jesus.

You’ve lived in His peace ever since. Sometimes you have been aware of Jesus’ peace and sometimes not. But he is always aware of you and always offering his breath of life to fill your lungs with life and your heart with joy as you face an unknown future like the rest of us.

In these teenage years you will need his peace. It’s a turbulent time – body changing, mind expanding, identity forming, relationships confusing, voices compounding and competing for your heart.

Your church community here get this. Sure it may have been a while since some of us were teens, but even if we forgotten that, we get it and we want to support you in it.

We thank the Lord that you are here and that you have his peace and that together we are peacemakers in this place.

YOU ARE SENT
Yes, YOU are a peacemaker – chosen by Jesus to bring his forgiveness to the places you go and the people know.

In the challenging years ahead, you have us and you have His peace to centre you and help you know who you are and whose you are. In an upper room when the fear is high and the future confusing or bleak, hear his words to you; “Peace be with you, young man, young woman – my child. Peace be with you”.

Breathe in:
• Hear those words of peace when you gather here in the same name into which you have been baptised – “In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit”.
• Take in his breath of peace here when you hear those words, “I forgive you all your sin”.
• Taste his life-giving peace when you taste the body and blood of this man and Son of God, Jesus Christ at the altar.
• Enjoy his peace when you hear us sing and pray and preach and share and join into the new song of peace we share.

Breathe out:
And when he has centred you again and another day at school or home or sport or wherever is given to you, take that calm, the patience, the poise and the promise you have and practice the art of being a peace-giver and maker – a Christian young person who forgives, who kindly challenges when needed, who asks for forgiveness from others and gives forgiveness when asked for.

You may think you are;
• Graduated from church and learning and being used by God.
• You are young and church and mission is “adult world” – not for young people…
• Finally free to cut loose from here and return whenever you want on your terms when you feel like it or need it again….

Well, you are young and there is a lot going on. And you are discovering your character, your goals, your gifts, and who you are. But even if you think that being sent as peacemaker with the breath of Jesus to speak and do is not really a big deal, we are saying it is and that you are a big deal too!

This local church and this community needs young people who know how to breathe – breathe in His peace and breathe out his peace. You are the lungs of life because you carry his peace in you and now you are called to step up to the calling of the Spirit we all share – to be his peace here and now.

So, just hear his words today, kids. “Peace be with you”. They are your words. “Peace be with you. I send you. My breath of life is your life”.

Just sense his breath filling up your soul with life and hope and a huge reservoir of forgiveness to give as you are able.

And call to mind this day when this peace was re-established in you on your Confirmation Day – Pentecost Day,
the birthday of this global and ancient community called the Christian Church in which, by God’s grace we live.

Yes, breathe Holy Spirit! Breathe into us and speak your word that heals this broken ground”. Breathe life and vision and power and peace into these young people today for the journey ahead. Say, what you will, Living Spirit of Christ, that we breathe in the very breath of our God today”.

 

Running on Empty

Sermon, Pentecost Sunday, St Petri

 

Running on Empty

Ezekiel 37: 1-14

 

  The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2 He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. 3 He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”  I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know. ”

 

What a privilege it is to be gathered together on this “Birthday” celebration of the community of Jesus – the Christian Church. Our red, yellow and red look great! It is a day for being filled with God’s Sprit and enjoying being a person of Christ living his mission in this town!

 

This vision of Ezekiel always helps me trust again that the Spirit of God is active and at work in even the deadest of situations, the driest of places, in the world and in my own heart. It helps me believe again that the church is his and he makes us church and he is what we need to be fully functioning disciples of Jesus living out Jesus’ mission life.

 

That picture of a dead, dry, lifeless valley and then the wind and the rattling bones and the flesh appearing and then lifeless bodies being filled with the breath of God, just like at the beginning in the garden help me trust the Spirit of God for my life and ours on this Pentecostal day.

 

Empty

Not all days are like this. Not all people sense this filling of God’s Spirit. There have been times when I, and maybe you, have felt like dry old bones. It is not a good place to be at first. We sense no Spirit. No power. No go. No fuel. We’re running on fumes. The tank is empty. We’re running on empty.

 

Stuck looking in ourselves

When we are running on empty two things can happen. One is that we blame God or others, or the church or past hassles for our lack of spiritual heart.

The other thing is that in the search to fuel up again and find spiritual life we can look in places that can’t deliver this fuel.

When we are in the valley of the dry bones we want to get out of it. That is natural. In the valley of spiritual dryness we search for fuel to fill up again.

Now we can find fuel for the goings on of our life in various places – some healthy, some not so healthy; some on a physical level, an emotional level, a psychological level. Looking after ourselves in these ways, learning about ourselves and how we tick and what replenishes us in these ways is wise and a blessing from God. But none of these lay at the very heart of our spirit – our spiritual core – our very being before the Lord as his creature.

 

Going Nowhere

We can spend a lot of time substituting emotional, physical, psychological well-being pursuits and think we are filling up our spiritual tank in doing so. We are very capable of misjudging what we really need and filling up on things that we think work, but actually are not what we really need at our very core.

No amount of good eating, good exercise, and good medicine will bring the healing balm of God’s forgiveness to bear in our very being.

 

It is my fault

I am continually learning that my lack of spiritual life, growth in faith, love for others, belonging in the congregation is not always “the church’s fault”, other people’s fault or God’s fault.

 

In fact, when I am honest, (and I need the Holy Spirit here to help me diagnose the problem accurately) I am responsible for my lack of spiritual well-being, because the Spirit of God never withdraws himself or his gifts from me. Why would he? He loves me. It is just that I fail to receive him and his gifts where and when he gives them.

So, my spiritual liveliness and awareness to God’s Spirit and responsiveness to the Spirit has to do with me seeking or not seeking the Spirit, learning or not learning the Faith in his Word, practicing or not practicing his love for others, more than the “feeling” I get in worship at any particular place.

 

“Nowhere” might be Somewhere

I find it challenging to hear that God puts Ezekiel in a dead, dry, lifeless place first, before he fills up his spirit to the full with an enormous promise of national resurrection of God’s people.

Could it be that the Spirit may lead us into the valley of dryness so we can receive his good gifts? Because up until then we will still be blaming others or looking for Him in places that can’t deliver?

 

Only the Spirit can do it

Friend, if you can almost feel the sand of the valley floor around your toes so dry and lifeless is your spirit, then listen up; it might be where you need to be so you can be revived.

It is from this kind of place that the Spirit of the Living God creates new spiritual people. Those dead people slowly come to life before our eyes as the rush of the Spirit’s presence comes in on them – all through the Word of God given to another human being to speak.

 4 Then the Lord said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!

So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. 8 I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.

 

Spirit Word

The Word of the Lord through the voice of a human being is the trigger for re-creation.

Now for the resurrection – the breath – the life of God….

Again, the Word of the Lord spoken through a human person:

9 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.

 

“A vast army”: Reminds me of scenes from that epic trilogy of motion pictures, “Lord of the Rings”! From disconnected, isolated, alone, lifeless, spiritless, empty bones to fully functioning community of the Lord at the ready for the task that awaits – and all by the Word of the Spirit through a human being.

 

The Right Fuel is on tap

Friends, those dry, dead, lifeless people could not be re-created and resuscitated by anything but the Word of the Spirit. Going to the gym would not have helped!

Our spiritual tank can only be filled with the right fuel – the living Spirit of God, the Word of God. Like dead bones brought to life and assembled into a functioning, purposeful community with a job to do (an army), and like a car that needs the right fuel to run well and be of use and reach a destination, so we need more than diets, exercise, medical care, and even emotional support in human relationships to run fully alive as God’s person in his world.

We have heard it so many times before but that does make it untrue – we need the Living means of the Spirit’s breath – the very breath of the Spirit himself – the Word of God – in all its forms – written, read, spoken, sung, and enacted in worship – especially the holy meal of the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit; the Living Word given freely in his ways – that’s the fuel stop and the fuel that binds us together as a Church.

Of course, Ezekiel understood that the Spirit of God is mighty powerful and is completely free in where and when he breathes life in this magnificent vision.

The Apostle’s on that day of all days for the Christian community also knew this truth. They were as amazed as everyone else at what the when and where the Word of the Spirit showed up and the effects he had on that first church.

But through Ezekiel speaking God’s Word and by the speaking of Jesus’ warnings and promises,  and  the doing of his direct commands in baptizing, proclaiming his gospel and sharing his meal, the Spirit of Jesus attaches himself for all time, all people, all valleys of dry people! He does not withhold his good gifts at all. They are constantly on offer, molding, shaping, teaching, empowering us if we choose to receive them whole heartedly.

 

Fuel Line for Life

So, St Petri Pentecostal people, we are a fuel line through which the Gospel’s fuel is pumped. It is tough uphill work against much gravity, inertia and resistance, involving many trials and tribulations, especially when we are prone to taking shortcuts off the main road or believing we know a better way to get better fuel. But even then, the Spirit of Christ does not hold back his good gifts of forgiveness, healing, life and power for living in the gathering of his people.

This Spiritual journey we share is risky, yet freeing and exhilarating, even in grand experiments and failures.

When we, God’s “Salvation Army” fuel up on God’s spiritual gifts of life on offer all the time and then “prophesy” his Word as we let the Gospel take us up the hill instead of trying to push the damn thing up ourselves, we breathe God’s life into this valley of dry, deadness in anyone longing to find real life in God.

What a trip! What a church! Come, Holy Spirit. Come, fill our hearts with fire of your life!