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The Lord And Giver Of Life

June 3, 2020 Pastor: Rev. Dean Kavouras

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Christ Lutheran Church
Cleveland, Ohio
June 3, 2020
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Pentecost
The Lord and Giver of Life

When you turn your face they are dismayed; you take away their breath and they cease to be, and return to their dust. Then you send forth your Spirit and they are created; and you renew the face of the earth. Psalm 104:29-30 (Introit Pentecost Series A)

Today the church celebrates the glorious Feast of Pentecost, which is the oldest feast of the liturgical year as we know it. Older than Christmas, older even than Easter.

We read of St. Paul celebrating Pentecost in Jerusalem around the year 60 AD. But we hear nothing of Easter until the second century and nothing of Christmas till the fourth.

But while Pentecost might rightly be termed the birthday of the church, the church was conceived long before.

It began when God “created the heavens and the earth” to be his temple; with Eden the chancel; Adam the priest, and Eve the congregation.

It began when he erected the first cross ever to be placed in a chancel. It is called “the Tree of Life” in Genesis 2:9 and God situated it at Eden’s center so that it might be the focal point of all creation, announcing the promise of the coming Christ.

Yes, God planted the “tree of life” in the Garden of Eden to be the sign and proof of his love for us. The promise that, even in those pristine days, before the virus of sin infected the world, God had already planned to redeem the world he loves and the crown of his creation – you are that crown!

Even in your fallen state; even if you are the most worthless person of the social order: the comatose resident of a nursing home, the fetus in the womb, the conservative politician … you are dear to the Lord and Giver of life.

Of greater worth than the sparrows that never succumbed to the temptations of the Evil One. And even in its corrupted state the “Lord and Giver of life,” will “renew the face of the earth,” and in Christ crucified “make all things new!” (Revelation 21:5)

That is what we mean when we confess: “I believe in the Holy Spirit the Lord and Giver of life.”

As often as we confess those words we recall, recognize and rejoice in the church’s first liturgy found in Genesis chapter one,

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
And the earth was without form, and void;
and darkness was upon the face of the deep.
And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”

This is a liturgy commemorating the birth of the original world. Chaos that was turned into order by the Lord and Giver of life, and filled with the Light of the Word of God; even our Lord Jesus Christ who is the Light of the World!

Who, if any man will follow him, he will never walk in darkness, but will have the Light of life. (John 8:12)

It was a world of such distilled perfection that it bore God’s own stamp of approval, “God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was Very Good.” (Genesis 1:31)

But that is not the world we live in today!

Nor can that one ever be recovered however hard we might wish and try and hope.

What was once friendly and designed to bless its inhabitants without coercion became hostile after the pollution of sin. And the warfare goes on to this day: man and woman trying to extort every drop of economic good from the earth; and planet in turn trying to kill us, trying to throw us off its back like a bull does its rider.

But while the Good world of days past cannot be recovered by wishing, hoping or political hysteria … a New Age began on Pentecost. The Age of the Spirit of God. The Age of the Church, from whence the renewal of all things begins; and every fallen sinner is invited to join.

The redemption that God planned for our salvation before sin polluted the world was brought to its fulfillment when our Lord bowed his head in death.

On the cross he made expiation for all that is wrong with the world. He “drained the swamp” of sin and death, and “handed over his Good Spirit to the world.”

It is by this very Spirit of Christ that earth-born sinners are born anew, and begotten from above, by water and the Spirit, just like the heavens and the earth.

It is by him that you are made a New Creation in Christ. A person in whom the old things of sin: self-worship, idolatry, lust and passion, have passed away. And all things are become blessedly new!

The things you love, the things you hope for, the things your pursue: the love of God, and Christ-like service to one another beginning in your own bed, your own home, and working your way out from there.

This is the love of God for us, poured out on us by the Spirit who forgives our sins, comforts us when we are sick, gives us courage in trouble, and keeps the hope of heaven ever before us even in the darkest night.

And even if we are conceived in sin as David was, we are born anew of water and the Spirit; and so our will is no longer bound as it was under the reign of sin. Instead we are God’s people. The church. Through whom the love of God is mediated to the whole world.

And so it is with the greatest possible fulfillment this Pentecost that we ascribe all blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might to our God. To the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, unto the ages of ages. Amen.