A sermon preached at Kowloon Union
Church on Sunday 15 May 2016, the Pentecost Sunday, by the Rev. Phyllis Wong. The scripture readings that
Genesis 11:1-9; Act 2:1-21; John 14:8-17, 25-27.
God of life,
may your Spirit fill the hearts of your
faithful and kindle in us the fire of your love. Inspire us to understand your truth and by
the power of the Holy Spirit your Word transform us to become more like Christ.
It is a day
of celebration for the outpouring of the Spirit and the spread of the Gospel to
pulpit fall reminds us of Pentecost fire, the fire of Jesus’ love poured out in
the Holy Spirit towards others.
the day the early Christian community is empowered by the Holy Spirit at the Jewish Pentecost
festival. For Christians, Pentecost marked the birth of a new faith community -
the church. Fifty days on earth after his resurrection, Jesus Christ left the
earth but his calling and mission remains in those who believe in him and love
a great reminder to Christians of the power of the Holy Spirit and her
transforming power to the life, faith and mission of individual believers and
the Church community.
celebrate and give thanks for the gift of the Holy Spirit given by God in Jesus
people, the Holy Spirit is very abstract. You cannot see it with your eyes, you
cannot listen to it with your ears. You cannot touch it by hands. However, you
may feel it.
Now I invite
you all to have a minute of silence. You may close your eyes and be fully aware
of your breath. Breathe in and breathe out. If there is anything that side
tracks you, just gently come back to your breath. I will finish this time of silent
meditation in your breathing by the sound of the bell. Let us start now.
Concentrate and focus on your breathing. Breathe in and breathe out.
How do you
feel sisters and brothers?
in Hebrew: ruah; and in Greek: pneuma both meaning breath, the spirit of the
When we are
breathing we know we are a living human being. When we breathe, we know that
the God of life is with us. In Genesis when the Lord God breathed into the
man’s nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. (Genesis
first appeared to his disciples after his resurrection, he said to them “Peace
be with you. As the Father send me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed
on them and said to them, “receive the Holy Spirit.”
breathe, we know by experience the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Jesus Christ
lives in us.
referring the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, as the Spirit of truth that dwells in
What is the
Spirit of Truth? The Spirit of Truth is to be fully united with God (we know
God as God knows us. God abides with us and he is with us. (John 14:15-16)
Pentecost Sunday, sisters and brothers, let us receive the Holy Spirit with
thanksgiving and affirm her presence and her power in our life and our faith in
significant to Christians and the Church. How?
within the disciples and the faith community gives them new life and transforming
Peter delivered a message during the Pentecost festival. (The Pentecost
festival was the anniversary of the Jews to commemorate and celebrate the
giving of Mosaic Law on Mount Sinai. It then became an annual renewal of the
Mosaic covenant for the Jews).
was called by Jesus as the Rock of the Church, delivered a powerful message
referring to Prophet Joel. He highlighted that everybody in God has been called
a vision and a role to play. He quoted from Joel 2:28-32.
of God will dwell in all flesh. Sons and daughters shall prophesy. Young men
shall see visions and old men shall dream dreams. Even upon slaves, both women
and men shall prophesy.”
women, young and old, servants of low social status and masters with high
status and power, are all valuable in the eyes of God. They all deserve to have
dreams and vision. No one will be left out. In God, a God of equals, all human
boundaries created by gender, age, race and class should be broken down. In
God, through the presence of the Holy Spirit, we are liberated to lead a life
that is different from the world values of hierarchy and segregation. The Holy
Spirit removes all human barriers and boundaries.
sabbatical last year, I went to Taize
France. This was a great spiritual experience. From there I experienced the
power and the work of the Holy Spirit that removed many human barriers.
Taize is an ecumenical community offering a
spiritual space for Christians of all background to worship, pray and serve the
mission of Christ to bring peace and reconciliation for all.
In Taize I
was staying in a dormitory with some ladies from France and South Korea. The
lady from South Korea is a church minister. She commands very little English
and no Chinese. For me I can neither speak her language Korean. It was not easy
for us to communicate verbally. But we communicated with non-verbal language
and we both felt great being with each other.
stay in Taize, I met people whose mother tongue is French, Spanish, Italian,
Romanian, Mandarin, German and so on. We were not able to communicate in our
own mother language. However, the holy spirit within us has broken the language
barrier. We worship and pray together for 8 days. The people who gathered to
worship were from different race, nation, nationality, gender, age, and mental
ability (there were mentally challenged friends joining the pilgrimage). We
shared Holy Communion every day. In the bread and wine that symbolized the body
of Christ, we were all united in One Holy Spirit. There are Christians from
Catholics, Protestant and Orthodox background. United in Christ through the
Holy Spirit, we all overcome many boundaries.
testament account today about the Babel Tower. It highlights people scattering
because they spoke different languages. In Christ, the Holy Spirit gathers
people speaking different languages in unity. The people who built Babel Tower were
scattered probably not because they spoke different languages. It was their
pride and self centred-ness that divide.
Unlike the disciples of Christ who took risk and left their comfort zone
to go to different places to share the gospel, the people from Babel became
very inward looking. They just want
to keep their stable life and do not walk in God’s way. Their sin is the
separation from God. The story of the Babel Tower is a reminder to believers
and the church community to walk humbly with God, and to live a life like
Christ. Jesus came not to be served but to serve.
passion, Jesus said to his disciples that ‘those who believe in him will do
what he does and will do even greater things than him.’ (John 14:12)
is sent to earth to reveal God’s glory of love and unity. Church is built to
In a world
that is full of division, hatred, fear and insecurity, let us who are united by
the power of the Holy spirit in Christ break all walls that divide. Let Christ,
our unity and liberty restore the world and renew all lives.
brothers, let us celebrate Pentecost with the transforming love and power of
the Holy Spirit in Christ. Amen.