Feast of Pentecost
Memorial Day Weekend was a bit of a bust this year.
Showers and low temps kept most of us inside, but that’s ok.
For some of us that meant getting projects done or watching a movie,
But not for all of us.
On Memorial Day, about third hour of the day, at 9 A.M.,
I went for a walk in our little downtown to encounter a local man completely drunk.
He wasn’t a stranger, and he wasn’t really a friend.
I’ve met him a few times before, but this was different.
He was speaking English, but I couldn’t understand him.
He was walking, but with little control over where he was going.
He had ideas about what would be good for him…
But you can’t get tacos at 9 A.M. on Memorial Day.
I tried to tell him that, but there was no point.
He wasn’t getting it.
There was no real reaching him.
We were in two very different conditions.
I was walking in a straight line, but his eyes could not focus.
I knew exactly what would be good for him, but he didn’t want it.
I spoke words that he could understand.
And on some level, he even knew they were correct.
But he was intoxicated. He was poisoned.
He had no reason and no strength.
You’ve seen this sort of thing before, and by summer’s end, you’ll see it again.
But you don’t need to stroll downtown on a holiday weekend.
You can stroll through the newspaper or the Internet.
Do that and you will see:
The world is drunk.
In its yearning, in its thirst for that which will satisfy,
The world has drunk deeply of pretty much everything:
Hate and lust and envy,
Greed and lies and so many idols.
The world out there has taken a shot of everything on the shelf,
And yet still she staggers around unsatisfied, looking for another fix.
The world speaks a language, but the words are unintelligible.
She talks about things like “justice,”
But if she knew what it really meant, she’d stop asking for it.
The world walks, but has no idea where she is going.
She thinks she knows what will be good for her,
But it’s just more of the same:
More hate, more greed, more pride –
And you still can’t get tacos at 9 A.M.
You’ve been there, too.
I’m not talking about college days, per se;
I’m talking about all those days before your thirst was satisfied.
I’m talking about all those days before you were brought to the living water,
Of which Jesus speaks in today’s Gospel.
It’s so obviously true for infants, but it really goes for everyone.
Once upon a time, you spoke, but it was babble; it didn’t make sense.
You moved around, crawling or walking, but with no sense of direction.
You thought you knew what was good for you;
But I don’t have to tell you the things babies will put in their mouths.
Of course, it isn’t just the kids.
Adults can say ugly things, go terrible places, and do terrible things, too.
The difference is they have money and a driver’s license.
For all of that the Church has Pentecost.
Not just today, when the Holy Spirit comes sounding like wind and looking like fire,
But when He came sounding like Scripture, and looking like water.
At your Baptism Jesus gave you Pentecost.
Which is to say He gave you His Holy Spirit,
That you would have faith in Him, and drink of Him.
That you would live in Him and speak of Him.
That you would die with him and rise with Him.
That’s your life now.
That’s the life of Baptism.
That’s the life of Pentecost.
That’s the life Jesus gives you.
He won it all for you on His cross.
He gave it all to you in the waters of Baptism.
And he refreshes you in that life every week,
Right here, about the third hour of the day – specifically 8 and 11.
So you leave this place every week, and again today not to go wherever you want,
But where Christ sends you.
You leave speaking a different language:
The words of Jesus and not those of an intoxicated world.
You don’t declare your own deeds, but the mighty works of God.
What does that look like?
When the man on Main St. had heard enough of me –
When water and a good sleep didn’t sound as appealing as tacos,
He said the only true thing he could:
He held my gaze for a full two seconds and calmly declared,
“Dude, you’re drunk.”
Fair enough. But he wasn’t clever or original.
The 4th century saint and Church Father, Cyril of Jerusalem said it first. He writes:
“In truth the wine was new, even the grace of the New Testament; but this new wine was from a spiritual Vine, which had oftentimes before this borne fruit in Prophets, and had budded in the New Testament.” (NPNF2 7:128)
To everyone else you will seem like a drunk.
In a world where nothing is free you declare a God who gives everything for free,
Even His own Son, even His Divine Life, even His Holy Spirit,
Even the Body and Blood of Christ are given to you now this morning.
That’s not the only thing, though.
All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?”
“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…
To some it will sound like drunken talk.
But this is the language of Pentecost.
This is the language of the Gospel.
And the Holy Spirit will do His work His way.
What does this mean?
What Luther writes in the Small Catechism:
“I believe that 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.
In the same way He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Chruch on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith.
In this Christian Church He daily and richly forgives all my sisn and the sins of all believers.
On the Last Day He will raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ.
This is most certainly true.”