Saturday, May 26, 2007


Pentecost 2007 * Acts 2:1-21 * John 14: 8-27

The Reverend Kirk Alan Kubicek, Saint Peter’s at Ellicott Mills, Maryland

Greater Works Than These

Imagine that I have a group of children up here sitting on the carpet with me. I hand each one of them an Oreo. They begin eating them. Suddenly one after another says, “Hey, there’s no filling in this one….” “There’s no filling in mine either!”

So I say to them, “That’s because last night I opened up each cookie and licked all the filling out of each one!” “Ewwww…yuk!!!” they all cry out.

And then I tell them that really what I did was scrape it all off with a knife and placed it between two cookies. But that the reason I did that was to make the point that life without the Holy Spirit would be like Oreos without the filling – yukkie and not much fun at all.

For weeks now Jesus has been promising the disciples that when he leaves them on day forty after Easter, the Ascension, that he will not be leaving them alone but will be sending an Advocate, the Holy Spirit who will “teach you everything.”

Then on day forty, Jesus ascends. The disciples become the church. They are on their own. They lock themselves up in a room somewhere in Jerusalem. They have an election for a new disciple. Then they must have committee meetings, or debates over what Jesus did and said and what they should be doing while they wait for something to happen.

Sure sounds like the church: elections, committee meetings, endless debates, and waiting, just waiting for something to happen.

Then on day Fifty, Pentecost, something happens – all heaven breaks loose! The sound of a Mighty Wind fills the house, tongues of flame appear landing on everyone, and suddenly they all begin telling others the good news of Jesus, and illegal resident aliens from all over the ancient world can all understand what is being said.

Some suggest the disciples must be drunk. Just like Kurt Vonnegut says, “Leave it to a crowd to see the wrong end of a miracle every time.”

Yet, to this day there are Christians who experience this outpouring of the Holy Spirit every day. They call themselves Pentecostals and constitute the fastest growing group of Christians in the world right now! They live life like a package of double stuffed Oreos every day! Why? How?

First, they understand that Baptism is Pentecost for each and every one of us – as it says on page 298 in the Book of Common Prayer, “Holy Baptism is full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s Body, the Church. The bond established in Holy Baptism is indissoluble.” That is, it is forever!

Next, Pentecostals know what we have talked about before – that if in our Baptism we become the Body of Christ, and when he comes up out of the water Jesus hears a voice, that voice now says to us what it said to him: You are my Beloved; I am well pleased with you!

Furthermore, Jesus says, the world will know you are mine and I am yours when you do the things I do, and greater things than these. This is his promise.

Which is why in our Baptism we make promises, and on Pentecost we renew those promises, because they are meant to shape our lives in such a way that we can truly do greater things than Jesus.

These promises include reading the Bible together, weekly corporate worship, tithing, daily prayer and study, seeking and serving Christ in all persons, striving for justice and peace for all people and respecting the dignity of every human being.

It means becoming a community of Christ’s peace, his Shalom – an inclusive embracing community that excludes none that takes seriously our single destiny, namely, the care and management of all of God’s creation, everyone and everything therein.

All of this must constitute what being perfect just as Jesus is perfect means, which is another instruction he gives to us.

To have a holy ghost of a chance of fulfilling these promises we make we need to open ourselves to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit – we need to become Pentecostal ourselves. We need to let every day be Pentecost. We need to let that Holy Spirit be the filling in the Oreo cookies of our lives so that we can in fact do the things Jesus does, and greater things than these.

If we allow ourselves to become a Pentecostal people, at the end of the day, when this life comes to its natural end, we will hear the same words spoken to us in our Baptism said to us once again: You are my Beloved; I am well pleased with you!


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