If Christianity was a religion simply made up by superstitious, manipulative and conniving men, you would think the Apostles would be heroic men who were smart and strong and convincing in their testimony.
Instead, the Gospels tell of ordinary men who are quite fallible, and often very weak.
Take the Apostle St. Peter, or as I like to call him, Rocky. Rocky was a mess! Remember the time when the disciples were in the boat on the stormy sea, and they saw Jesus walking on the water, meaning to pass them by. They all were quite fearful, thinking that had seen a ghost. Jesus says, “Take courage! It is I! Do not be afraid!”
Peter responds, “Lord, if it is you, tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” Jesus said. Rocky hops out of the boat and is doing great until he looks down at the water! Does he say, “Hey, look at me! I’m walking on the water!” Oh, no! he get scared and begins to sink. Jesus has to rescue him.
How about the time when Rocky says, “O, no, Lord. I’ll never betray you!” You all know how that one turned out.
And who can forget the all time favorite line uttered by Jesus when he told the disciples about how he would go to Jerusalem, and suffer at the hands of the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and that he must be killed, on the third day, be raised to life. Rocky said, “God forbid! This will never happen to you!” And Jesus delivers the deepest cut of all; “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me; for you are not on the side of God, but of men.”
If you stopped reading your Bible after the Gospels, you might get the idea that this committee of rough talking fishermen, scheming tax collectors, and simple shepherds would surely kill this new Church in short order.
Just when you think all is lost, something wonderful happens. In his appearances after the resurrection, Jesus confirmed what he had taught the disciples, and he gave the great commission to the Apostles, which is recorded in the last few verses of the Gospel according to St. Matthew:
“Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him; but some doubted.”
(Notice how some still doubted!)
“And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” Matthew 28:16-20
St. Luke’s Gospel ends with this statement by Jesus: “And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49)
Then on the Day of Pentecost, which we celebrate this day, the miracle occurs. The eleven had just chosen the man to join them, Matthi’as, so they could become the twelve again.
The appearance of the Holy Ghost this day was not like the descending of a dove, in its peacefulness. The appearance is with the sound of a mighty wind, and it filled the house where they were. This must have been very exciting! Put yourself in their place for a moment. What a wondrous event it must have been. Some of you would probably be in the driveway looking for the tornado!
Now the lowly Apostles are filled with the Holy Spirit to be able to proclaim the Good News in every language and in every place.
And remember Rocky? He is transformed with the new life of the Spirit of Christ living in him.
Then St. Peter proceeds to make his mark. He is no longer the simple fishermen saying those foolish, childish things. He is now a great Apologist for Jesus Christ. I urge you to grab a Bible and read Acts chapter 2 again, and see if you, too, are inspired. I know I am every time I read it. St. Peter said, “And it shall be that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Wonderful words indeed.
And Inspired they were, with the the in-spir-ation, the in-breathing of the Holy Ghost. And not just some force, or puff of smoke, but The Third Person of the Trinity, God, his own self.
With the Holy Spirit of God within, they were ready to fulfill the Great Commission.
And indeed, all of us are inspired with the Holy Ghost. All of you present today are All Saints of God. There are many of the Saints of this parish that have gone before you, and now you take that legacy with you.
You are all filled with the Holy Spirit, just as the 12 were, to go and to teach and to heal the broken hearted. The decades of preaching and teaching that have happened in this church building were all for this moment, to send you out to continue the preaching and the teaching and the healing.
While these doors may close, so ending a chapter in this story, there is so much more to be written. Go and become a part of another congregation, taking your gifts and adding them to theirs, thereby strengthening you both. God will be glorified wherever we are, because the Holy Ghost goes where He will, and He will never be stopped.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and
the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with us all evermore.
Amen. 2 Corinthians 13:14