Pentecost Sunday

Pentecost Sunday
The Coming of the Holy Spirit!

Acts 2:1-21 
Ps 104:24-34,35b 
1 Cor 12:3b-13 
John 20: 19-23

If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’ John 20: 22

Tena koutou katoa e te whanau o Te Wairua Tapu.

Today we celebrate Pentecost Sunday. And there are multiple kauwhau in all our readings focusing on the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:2-4) “And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.” (1 Corinthians 12: 5-8) “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” And of course our gospel reading from John. (John 20: 22) “When Jesus had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.” 

It is very tempting to jump from one reading to another to try and make sense of the Holy Spirit and how it functions. But for me, I always come back to the gospels. I never stray to far from what they have to say. You see, prior to the disciples receiving the Holy Spirit, they were locked away in a room afraid of being discovered by the Jewish authorities. 

So it was appropriate that I ended last week’s kauwhau with, “Hold on whanau! We are preparing to begin a new chapter and breath new life into the story we get to live out at Te Wairua Tapu.” This would have been quite confronting for some of you as we have been locked away and separated from each other for over two months. And now, I expect you to have all your gifts sorted out and ready to share with the world! Well, to be honest, these are not my expectations but God’s. You see, it’s all about empowerment. When we’ve been given the green light to go, then it’s time to get cracking. But somehow we get scared and begin to question ourselves; are we really ready to go? Am I worthy enough? Do I have the confidence or the right skills and abilities to lead? More importantly, we question our faith. Is my faith strong enough? Maybe I need to spend more time with God and more time getting to know Jesus?

Our lives are no different from the disciples. When it comes to faith, it’s all about God and nothing else. If we truly believe God exists and Jesus Christ is the manifestation of God, then that’s all that matters. This time away from each other has and will continue to test our faith long after our return to Te Wairua Tapu. But our faith has certainly been tested during this time of separation. All our weaknesses and strengths totally exposed to God. Yet, we think we can still hide from God. I am sure the disciples felt the same way but God could see them in that locked room; full of fear, alone, not knowing what to do next, their leader was gone, the wind completely taken from their sails, they were totally lost.

And then we see in our gospel reading, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Yes, it’s me and 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. 

Be at peace whanau. Be at peace with yourself, your whanau and the world. And we know how the world is right now, how can we not see it? Be at peace. Why? Because the Holy Spirit has come among us and it will be the Holy Spirit that will teach and guide you and I in the direction in which God wants us to take. But let me be clear, our role and the role of the church is all about salvation. Bringing God’s people back to God. And like a wise priest said to me one day, you can only save the world by saving one person at a time. The question is; are you saved? Or are you still waiting to be saved? Let go and be at peace because you believe. So as the tongues of fire from the Holy Spirit descends upon us, let us be empowered and ready to go and save the world, one person at a time. As Jesus commands and outlines our mission, If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” Amen.

Holy Spirit of God, blowing through creation: No door can keep you out. Unlock our hearts, breathe on us anew; that we may speak God’s words of life. With the Father and the Son, you live and reign, one God, now and forever. Amen.

The Venerable Kaio Karipa
Sydney Maori Anglican Fellowship Church of Te Wairua Tapu