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The Spirit and the Gospel
Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Fifty days after the Passover lamb was sacrificed according to the Lord’s commandment, the children of Israel gathered at the foot of Mount Sinai to hear what God said to Moses. “Then Moses came and set before them all the words which the Lord commanded him.” And the people answered, “All the people answered with one voice saying, “Everything that God has said, we will both do and hear.” They pledged themselves entirely, and surrendered themselves completely, to do what the Lord said. They vowed to deny themselves the luxury of following their own path. They promised to live by the commandments that the Lord gave through His holy prophets. But most of all, with these words, the children of Israel confessed that their life, their health, their well-being, and even their freedom was utterly dependent upon the Lord’s Word. Whatever He commanded was not just good, but led them in the way of salvation.
Likewise, when the day of Pentecost had come, fifty days after the true Paschal Lamb was slain, the children of Israel are once again gathered by the Holy Spirit, this time in the city Jerusalem. This time they would not hear Moses, but Saint Peter and the Twelve. And just like Moses, the Apostle Peter delivers to them what the Lord has said by the same Spirit that inspired Moses. Peter and the others speak in the language of the people “the wonderful works of God.” He preaches to them the Gospel of Christ crucified. He shares the news that God has poured out on them His Holy Spirit so that all creation might also be exalted and glorified by being gathered in Him into His one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.
When the people heard this, they did not speak with the confidence of the Hebrews gathered at Mount Sinai. Instead, they were terrified. “What shall we do?” they asked. Peter tells them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” Those words of the Holy Apostles still reverberate to this day. “Their sound has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.” And it is my duty to repeat what has always been said by those faithful preachers who have gone before me—beginning with Saint Peter, continuing through Pastor Welp and Pastor Schultz, Pastor Mech and Pastor Esget and Pastor Buetow, and continuing to this day. Jesus says as much in the words you heard today. “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” In keeping God’s Word, you realize that your body is no longer your own; it is now “the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
That is why the Holy Spirit is given to us: not so that we live how we like, but so that we conform ourselves to the Lord’s love by living in His holy Church, gathered around His Holy Supper, which gives us the strength and the courage to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and lay down our lives for all men—even our enemies. For that is how our Lord lived His love for us. And He has generously poured out that love into us by His Holy Spirit, who proceeds from the Father and the Son and who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified. Thanks be to God for this inexpressible gift! In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.