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The Spirit Of God Or The Spirit Of The Age?

June 8, 2019 Pastor: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Verse: Acts 2:17–2:21

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Christ Lutheran Church
Cleveland, Ohio
June 9, 2019
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Pentecost
The Spirit Of God Or The Spirit Of The Age?

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all! Amen.

And it will come to pass in the last days says God I will pour out of my Spirit on all flesh and your sons and your daughters will prophecy; and your young men will see visions, and your old men will be dreamers of dreams! And upon my servants both male and female in those days I will pour out my Spirit and they shall prophecy … And it shall come to pass that whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved. (Acts 2:17-21)

Today is Pentecost!

Today the church calls upon the Holy Spirit who is “the Lord and Giver of life!”

Today we are saved!

All the things we take for granted – this Holy Communion, Scripture, Sacraments, the “blessed assurance that Jesus is mine” … we could have none of these things; do none of these things; except the Almighty Spirit of our God should graciously enable us to do them – which he does!

As creation could not have occurred without him nor can the New Creation, the church. But we also know that the Spirit does not glorify himself but always directs the hearts and minds of the faithful to Jesus instead, just as our Lord states in today’s gospel, “He will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have said to you.” (Jn 14:26)

And in John 14:16 Jesus calls the Spirit "another comforter,” but If that is the case who is the first? It is Jesus himself.

He comforts us by the Rod and Staff of his cross. He consoles us by the blood that he shed to cleanse us from our sins. He prepares this table before us in the presence of our enemies and, though the Enemy is not visible to the naked eye, he is real enough.

And so if you think that only what you perceive with your senses, or only what culture affirms to be real is all that there is then you suffer from very small understanding – but be of good cheer for you have come to the right place today.

Let not your ego be dismayed to hear that because unless you are possessed of God's Spirit you cannot see the things of God but are forever consigned to the shadows.

Plato, the great Greek philosopher, told the parable of a group of people who lived chained to the wall of a cave, facing a blank wall.

In the parable they observe shadows projected on the wall from objects passing in front of a fire that is situated behind them. They give names to the shadows which are their only reality. But one day they break free and see the things that were making the shadows then they understood.

We are those prisoners! and can only break free when we live the baptismal life whose ever renewable power-source is the Spirit. Till then the shadows are all we know and O how wrong we are about all the things that we seem so sure about.

How devoid of the "right understanding" that the church prays for in the Pentecost Collect today.

May we pray that prayer with all boldness and confidence! With great faith! For it is the prayer that God answered on Pentecost when he did not just apportion his Spirit to certain people, for limited times, to accomplish limited tasks, as was the case before Pentecost. But now he "pours out” his Spirit upon all flesh just as Joel had prophesied, and Peter preached on the first Christian Pentecost.

What does that mean? It means that true vision is available to all people, available to you, but it is not an automatic thing; but the priceless treasure that God gives at baptism, and renews in holy worship!

Before baptism you have only your own spirit. And while some human spirits are more vibrant, more pulsating than others they are, none the less, human.

Finite!

“By nature sinful and unclean,” in sympathy with the Spirit of the Age rather than the Spirit of God, and as such under the sentence of death.

And so as we learn something of the Holy Spirit on the holy day let us also learn something about his polar opposite – the Spirit of the Age.

We glean all that we need to know about that spirit from today’s Old Testament lesson regarding the Tower of Babel. An account, a liturgy really, that was written for our learning (Romans 15:4) so that we might never forget
what happens when people worship the Spirit of the Age, instead of the Spirit of God who … “together with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified.”

The Tower of Babel was earth’s first version of the United Nations. Then as now men understood that there is strength in numbers and so they formed a union. But against whom? Against God, of course, as man always does!

With the judgment of Noah’s Flood still fresh in their minds these savvy men determined to build a tower so high that if God were ever again to punish the world by a Flood, they would be safe.

Talk about simple!

But there was more to their scheme. By this skyscraper they meant to level and playing field. To cut God down to size just like man does today. Not by Towers of Brick but Towers of Technology that are “the opium of the people.” That serve to calm frightened humanity and assure them that all will be well – for a price of course, always for a price.

Such happy thoughts may be as sweet as candy when we are young and healthy, and life is under control. But life turns on a dime, Beloved! And in the end it breaks us all down, and the insatiable grave eats us for lunch.

And so when the Holy Trinity came down and threw a monkey wrench into their plans it was an act of kindness. God thwarted their scheme with simple brilliance. He confused their language so that they could no longer communicate with one another, scattered them over the face of the earth, and their plans died that day.

Or did they?

What God said then is still true of our godless plans today. “This is only the beginning of what they will do,” he said, “and nothing that they propose will now impossible for them.” (Gen. 11:6) And so may God intervene again and again to save us from ourselves.

But what God did at Babel he undid at Pentecost, the New Testament Feast of Weeks (Shavuot) that symbolized the fullness of time. Last evening at sunset the 49 day season of Easter ended. Seven weeks of seven days and today, on the 50th day, the church receives the Spirit and “the world without end” begins.

Today lost man’s desperate search to find his way Home is over. Today the Lord and Giver of Life is poured out upon all flesh. Today this promise is fulfilled in your hearing.

Today sons and daughters; young men and old, encumbered and free prophecy together in holy liturgy; but always remember this. That every Sunday is Pentecost in the church! That the Spirit of our God is poured out upon us here (not there); and that as often as we call upon the name of the Lord we will be saved. Amen.