THE DAY OF PENTECOST AD 2019
TRINITY EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH
REV. KURT E. REINHARDT
Genesis 11:1-9 Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another's speech.” So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth.
Acts 2:1-21 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”
But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them:“Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:
“‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams;
even on my male servants and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
And I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
the sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
John 14:23-31 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me.
“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you. ’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.
Help. It is the one thing that we all need. We begin life needing a lot of it and we often come to life’s end in the same way. And depending on how wise we are, we will get a whole lot of it in between as well. God did not make us helpless, but He did create us to need help, because He wanted us to be connected to Him and one another. In need of help? Yes. Helpless? No, because we had Him and one another.
Now there’s help and then there’s help. There’s the help that is a giving you a hand kind of help, the kind of help, where you could manage on your own but things would go a lot quicker, easier, better with someone helping you out. And then there’s the other kind of help - the “Help! I’m drowning!” kind of help … the kind of help that rescues and saves … the kind of help that you need because you can’t do it yourself.
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name. The Holy Spirit is the Helper. But what kind of helper is He? Is He the giving you a hand kind of helper, the one that makes things go a lot easier, quicker, even a bit better, or is He a rescue you kind of helper, the save you because you’re drowning kind of helper? How you see yourself, how you see your own need has a lot to do with how you’ll see Him.
There are plenty of people who don’t think they need any kind of helper at all. People like those who set about building their tower on the plain in the land of Shinar. The people who are all about making a name for themselves, something we still have going on today. Thanks to social media, what the majority of young people want most out of life is to be famous, and the most popular song at funerals is “I did it my way”. Life for many is all about going it alone, making it big, being a somebody who needs nobody.
There are others, a number of them, who think we are in a bit of a mess and need a hand up. We’re not a complete write-off. we’re in a bit of a bind but with a little help we can pull up our boot straps and get on with things. They believe they need God’s help, but in a give you a hand kind of way, a kind of “if you do your very best almighty God will do the rest” kind of way. Come to Him and He’ll give you what you need. Reach out to Him and He’ll grab hold of you. Choose Him and He’ll save you.
Then there are a few who get the idea that they are just a total mess and that they can’t do anything to help themselves. They know they’re drowning. If you don’t see yourself as this kind of person, then you won’t let the Spirit be the kind of Helper God has sent Him to be. Either you won’t have anything to do with Him, because you don’t think you really need Him, or you’ll let Him do a bit, but you’ll quickly shove Him out of the way because you’ve got things under control. He’ll be there, ready and willing to do His job, but you won’t let Him get on with it.
The work of the Spirit, believe it or not is supposed to be just like the work of the other two persons of the Trinity. The Father creates out of nothing. He made each one of us without us having anything to do with it. We are fearfully and wonderfully made, and little old you and me had nothing to do with it. The Son also has His work totally covered . He saved us all on His own without any help from us, unless you want to count the beating, the scourging and the crucifying. And so the Helper as the third person of the Trinity, believe it or not, has got His job covered as well. The Helper doesn’t need our help.
Of course this is all very humbling for people like you and me, who ever since that whole tree business and the be like God bit, don’t really like the idea that we need a whole lot of help. Even if we know the truth in our heads, and maybe even in our hearts, that we are poor miserable sinners who need rescuing in every way … who need the “Help me! I’m drowning!” kind of help, it’s not the easiest thing to live out, which shows us just how desperately we need the Helper’s help. We can’t even get the helping part right!
I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith. I can’t be a Christian without the Helper’s help, and not the giving me a hand kind of help, but the creating out of nothing kind of help. I can’t be all the things a child of God is supposed to be without the Helper’s creating out of nothing kind of help.
Believing in Christ, remaining faithful, hearing God’s Word, receiving Christ’s body and blood, praying, loving God and my neighbour, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control - all the Spirit’s work, all only done with His creating out of nothing kind of help, His “Help me! I’m drowning!” kind of help, His professional help. The Holy Spirit is the expert in these things. Apart from Him we can do nothing here. We’ve got nothing to add, nothing to contribute, but everything to receive.
Like every day in the Church Pentecost is all about God’s grace for you, all about His free gifts, all about what God is doing for you, how He is at work to save you, how He has chosen you, called you, claimed you, how He has made you His children, how He is feeding you, nourishing you. It’s all about Him helping you, as He alone helps, not in part but fully, completely - not a hand up helping, but a hand out rescuing helping.
The Holy Spirit is at work today to do His good work for us. And so He calls you to repent, as He calls me to repent of any idea that we need to, or can, add anything of our own to His good work. He calls us to repent of the idea that our life as God’s children has anything to do with messed up us and instead He turns our eyes here to Jesus, to what He has done for us and is still doing for us. As the expert of expert Helpers the Holy Spirit says, “Forget about you. You won’t find any hope or help in you. Fix your eyes here, on Jesus, He’s got it all covered for you.”
Help? Yes, we all need help whether we have the wisdom to admit it or not. But Helpless? No, no we are definitely not that, because we have a Helper, who helps us get the the help that we need in Christ and Christ alone. Amen.