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Pentecost A Sermon
June 4, 2017
Guest Preacher,
Deacon Nick Bates

 

Sermon Archives
 

 

I stand here today to make a bold proclamation. A proclamation that some might dismiss, A proclamation that many will laugh at and ignore A proclamation that will change the way we see and engage the word.

I proclaim that God is active in our world.

On that first Pentecost, the birthday of the Christian Church, The Apostles made bold proclamations about God working amongst us and in our world to do great things in Love. But unlike creation – where God did everything, and the salvation at the cross – where once again God did everything to redeem us. Now God, the Holy Spirit is inviting all of us into the Church to be the body of Christ, to be the hands and feet of God in the world

God is active in our world through us.

If weaccept this proclamation as true, it not just an everyday statement, it not ordinary, it does not coalesce with business as usual. This proclamation changes everything. As I mentioned during the Children’s sermon, the season of Pentecost will stretch throughout much of the year and we describe it as ‘ordinary time’. The standard green will drape our altar. But it is during this ordinary time that God is active in our world.

I feel confident, even more confident in this proclamation today, because we are celebrating our graduates.

Now, It’s easy to point to the past and identify places and people who carried the Holy Spirit –Mother Theresa caring for orphans and forgotten; Dietrich Bonheoffer a Lutheran pastor who challenged Adolf Hitler;and of course Martin Luther King who believed and advocated for a Beloved Community – these people are obvious examples of God’s loving actions in this world. These religious celebrities are lifted up as unique and special. These are the kind people that wemight consider special liturgical colors and holidays for. But the Spirits work is not limited to a few select individuals.

On that first day of Pentecost, God picked very regular flawed individuals to carry the message into the world. Today, whether you see yourself as a religious celebrity or a very ordinary person, God is calling you to be the Church, and to live out your vocational calling in whatever you may do.

Now that’s one of those fun Church words – vocation. Too often, we think of vocation as just a job. While our career may be a part of our vocational calling, our vocational calling is not limited to our employment status. While vocation is an important topic for high school youth groups, it should not remain there. We all continue to have vocational callings throughout our life.


Martin Luther said that everyone has a vocational calling. During his time people actually disagreed with him and thought only Priests and Popes were called by God to do God-work.

But Luther feels that everyone – the Priesthood of All Believers – is called to do God work in everything we do.

Luther asked, “How can you say that you have no calling? You have always had a station in life – mother, father, boy or girl. Imagine you’re a parent; don’t you have enough to do governing your own household to be obedient to God?”

The way I view it is that Vocation is the intersection of what God requires of us – to love God and to love our neighbor - and how we use our gifts and opportunities to serve God.

Our station in life changes from being a student to teacher, from cared for to caregiver. From an employee to an employer.And we even have the extended periods in-between time where we don’t know what station we are in. It is likely that your vocational calling will change as you progress through life, but no matter where you are – we can all identify ways to act out of love toward God and neighbor in whatever we do.

I will confess that I have said that ‘Once I make a little bit more money, I will donate to specific causes I support.’ I have also said that ‘once the kids are older, I can volunteer more.’ And when I was still in school I said, ‘once I am older and graduate, I will speak out about this injustice in our world.’ And I anticipate that in a few years, I will say ‘I can’t be involved because I am not young anymore.’

But for me, these are excuses, because God can still use me even if I don’t have the time, money or talents that are traditionally sought. God’s creative. Even if I can do nothing else, I can pray for wisdom from the Holy Spirit to inspire me to new action. I might not be able to run a marathon for charity, but I can volunteer at the event. I might not be able to volunteer at the food pantry because of my work schedule, but I can write a letter to the editor about the devastating impact of hunger in our community. There are plenty of opportunities to show love to my neighbor that I just pass by.

Today, we lift up our graduates Sarah Hangen, Jessie Beech, and Trevor Prater who are graduating from High School. While they enter into extremely diverse educational paths, they are all following their vocational call

Jessie’s theatrical abilities will equip her to tell stories of love, hurt, joy and abandonment. Telling meaningful stories can help break down barriers between communities, uplift the needs of those who feel lost, and bring joy and laughter to us all.

Trevor’s pursuit of a degree in forestry, wildlife and fisheries – lovingly nicknamed a degree in professional boy scouts, will allow him to lead many of us in care for creation as commanded in Genesis.

Sarah’s compassion and intellect will guide her well as she studies accounting while also preparing to be a physical therapist.Sarah also has a calling toward world conquest. And if you know Sarah, you know that is a real possibility.

As I proclaimed in the beginning of my sermon – God is active in this world. After chaperoning three national youth gatherings – and teaching our high school youth group for about 10 years - I have learned from the wisdom of our youth, been convicted of my own sinfulness and felt redemption by being in community with them. God is already active in these kids. They are not the leaders of tomorrow, but they are leaders today, and our church is in good hands with these youth as leaders.

On behalf of the youth, I want to say thank you to the members of this congregation for living out YOUR vocational calling as a congregational member. Your support of these kids, kind words, financial support of our events has allowed our youth to live out their calling to learn and grow in their faith.

But showing up on Sunday is not your only vocational calling – it is a part of it.

Are you a parent blessed with patience to handle the toddler that wants to play at 3am?

Or are you a gardener who donates your time to the congregation’s hunger garden?

Are you a musician that blesses others with inspirational music?

Are you a business leader who challenges your peers who seek unethical profits at the expense of people?

Are you a public officialwho seeks to use your secular authority to serve the widow, the orphan and the stranger?

Vocational calling is not just about doing one or two things a week, but about how we orient our entire life to allow the Holy Spirit to move us to do extraordinary things during ordinary times in God’s love.

Now, it is hard to constantly be the flame in the darkness. There are many days we just want to blend into the green ordinary world. Some days, even picking up a marker for a small stroke is just too much. Many times our insecurities will lead us to provide for our own needs first, and put God’s call of us second, third or fourth.

And in those times, our Gospel lesson today gives us words that provide comfort

Jesus says, Peace be with you.

To our graduates, when you become overwhelmed with your academic studies, or stressed by new social relationships and dynamics – peace be with you.

To the parents who watch their children growing up and transitioning to adulthood – Peace be with you.

To those who see suffering and injustice in our world and want to help every lost and struggling individual – peace be with you.

To those who have been oppressed and left hungry – peace be with you.

God has provided social workers, therapists, doctors, pastors, deacons, teachers, prophets, friends, parents, and this congregation to help us find the peace we seek. Their vocational call is to provide peace to us when we need peace.

But peace does not draw us to complacency. Peace allows us room to breathe, room to make mistakes, the wisdom of God’s love, and room to move ahead with our vocational calling.

The song, by Rachel Kurtz that played during our slideshow said
You gave your life to make a difference
You gave your life to make a change
You welcomed all to your table
You're telling us to do the same

Her lyrics are very Lutheran to us – because it points back to why we are called to do this work of Pentecost in the world. We are called to love our neighbor because Jesus gave His life to make a difference and to make a change. Christ welcomed all to the table, and has told us to go out into the world and do the same.

Just as I began today with the proclamation God is active in our world. Let us conclude with it

God is active in this world through this congregation – even when we walk out of this building.

God is active through the ELCA – through ELCA World Hunger, Advocacy, and our global ministries.
God is active through all the global expressions of the Christian Church seeking to do justice, show mercy and walk humbly.
God is active in this world through our youth – who God has raised up to lead us forward.
God is active in this world, God is active through you.

Amen