For the six weeks of Easter my family has had about six days free from coughing. We hid inside our rooms for a week because of covid, just waiting to get out. Kids coughing, mum moaning, dad groaning. You can imagine us being worn out, and yet this is nothing compared to the groaning of the whole of Creation right up to the present time. Groaning as in the pains of childbirth, as God’s Creation suffers thousands of hurts because of us and our sin. God knows the beauty of His Creation, and the perfection He has planned for it. And yet Creation waits in pain for the Fulfillment. When will it come? How much longer?
God has made a promise that He would fix the brokenness Adam and Eve brought on the world; and humanity has been waiting for it ever since. The promise to Abraham that all peoples will be blessed through His descendant, the Israelites groaning in waiting. The promise to the kingdom of Judah of a Messiah, a saviour; the Jews longing for the Fulfillment. And now you, disciples of Jesus, who have seen the first-fruits of our salvation in Christ Jesus our Lord; you join this waiting as you groan inwardly for the complete redemption of our bodies. You can wait as the faithful have for thousands of years, living the life of Christ, walking His way of the Cross; or you can go your own way as the wicked giants before the flood, or the self-destructive ways people invent today. But you who do cling to this hope, the redemption of our bodies, the destruction of sin, death and the devil, the healing of all our brokenness, body and soul; you who cling to this hope, wait.
But am I strong enough to wait? Can I hold out for that long? My Grandma waited her whole life, yet as far as this fallen world sees, she could not last. Could Jesus’ disciples, without the Holy Spirit, have gone out into foreign lands, among strange tongues, before kings and emperors and spread the gospel? No, by themselves they were huddled inside like isolated covid sufferers. However, God did not leave them orphans. Someone unseen as the wind came into the apostles, filled them with power and made their proclamation understood by all peoples who heard them in their own mother tongues. And now, a mixed multitude praises the One Lord Jesus Christ, bringing all their prayers to Him as they wait.
As we wait. Waiting as my family suffers coughs, waiting while our faithful forebears have died; still the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. He sustains our faithful forebears who still live because of Christ. The Holy Spirt sustains us through trials and tribulations, despite our failings and fears; He is the one who draws us back to Christ. He is the one who intercedes, praying on our behalf, when we do not know what to pray. When you are dry, He is there; and when you are fit and full, He is the one who provides the strength. He is the one who guides us in accordance with God’s will. And this is the reason for our celebration today, that God Almighty, our loving Heavenly Father, chose this day to send the Holy Spirit to enliven His Church. That all peoples, not just the Jews, but Germans, Scots, English, Irish, Tigrayans, Estonians, even Australians, might hear and be saved. That we might receive the Holy Spirit as our advocate while we wait for final and lasting peace in Christ. That by the Holy Spirit you might be joined with hundreds, thousands, millions, of people with hundreds of languages praising, serving and being served by God together.
This is who we are, the Church, the Bride of Christ, clothed in many colours, gathered from every tribe and tongue. You have been gathered to dwell with God Almighty, to pray and speak by the strength of the Holy Spirit in your weakness. To rely on Christ in your day to day, keeping His word, obeying His commands. And by the strength of the Holy Spirit to join Him as an advocate for those around you, family, friends and colleagues. For in the same way, as Paul wrote, the Spirit helps you in your weakness.
And as He does, the peace of God which surpasses all understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, now unto life everlasting. Amen.
Pastor Joseph Graham.