Preaching Resources

Preaching Mission for Pentecost Sunday (May 19, 2024)

(Worship at the Moravian Church in Nova Paka, Czech Republic)

The Body of Christ at Work in the World Today

Assigned Texts: 
Acts 2:1-21
Romans 8:22-27
John 15:22-27, 16 4b-15

Like many Christian Churches, we Moravians do Christmas really well. Congregations fill the sanctuary several times over with folks eager to sing the familiar carols, share in a Moravian love feast, and lift their candles high on the final verse of the final hymn. It is amazing! And we love it.

As Moravians, we do Easter well, too. We often hold sunrise services in our burial grounds, and the morning worship services have twice the normal attendance, with perhaps extra chairs brought in to seat the latecomers. We want to hear, “The Lord is Risen,” and together proclaim, “The Lord is Risen indeed.”

But here we are at Pentecost, an event that is every bit as important as Christmas and Easter, and what do we do? We yawn!  For some congregations, this has become a Sunday to do confirmation, which can add a celebration note.  Most congregations serve communion on this high holy day, but otherwise, there is not a lot of fanfare.  BUT IT SHOULD BE!

While Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus, and Easter celebrates his resurrection, Pentecost celebrates the Body of Christ (the Church) that is called to carry Jesus’ ministry forward for all of time.  It is a big deal!

Today’s scripture reading from Acts chapter 2 tells the story of the coming of the Holy Spirit to those early believers who were still somewhat confused and bewildered by all that had happened to them since Easter Day. But Jesus had told them to remain in Jerusalem until the arrival of the Spirit, and here it was.

To spell it out in plain language, the Holy Spirit is the presence of God in our world today that gives power and purpose to the church today.  It is the presence of God that not only helps us to discern our mission, but the motivation to do it.

So preachers and teachers, please read today’s texts carefully and note what the Spirit is doing.

Why, you might ask, is this so important? The coming of the Holy Spirit to those believers in the early church was the confirmation that they had not been left alone with  Jesus’ departure at the ascension. Jesus had promised that the Holy Spirit, the comforter, the life-giver, the very presence of God in the world, would come and move them into action.

Too many people are trying to go it alone. Too many congregations are trying to go it alone. We cannot!  So, celebrate Pentecost for what it is: the birth of the Body of Christ, of which each of us is a member.  Thanks be to God.