Homily 311 – 8th of Pascha Holy Pentecost
Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church, Ames, Iowa
May 27, 2018
Epistle: (3) – Acts 2:1-11
Gospel: (27) John 7:37-52; 8:12
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God.
When we think about Pentecost, we don’t always remember that it was a feast that began with the Jews.
In the Jewish world, Pentecost was the 50th day after the Passover. In Hebrew, the feast is called “Shavuot” which means weeks. In Greek, Pentecost, meaning fiftieth.
Strange name for a feast.
The feast commemorated the giving of the law to Moses on Mt. Sinai.
After the Passover, the children of Israel left Egypt, left enslavement, and were redeemed – set free. They crossed the Red Sea, and moved into the desert.
Sometimes, in hearing of Moses leading the children of Israel, we wonder perhaps why they went that way.
A fair question! As we look back, we remember that this was the second time that Moses left Egypt – the first time was after he killed an Egyptian. He went to the land of Midian – the Sinai peninsula.
It was at the mountain of Sinai that Moses encountered the Burning Bush. And it was there he was sent back to Egypt to deliver the people of God.
So, Moses knew exactly where he was going when he left Egypt with the nation behind him. He headed for the mountain.
And on that mountain, he went up and encountered God. He was given the Law of God, on tablets which our hymns describe as “divinely inscribed.” Written with God’s own hand.
This Law, the Torah, became the way of Life for the people of Israel for millennia.
But when Christ came – when our Lord was obedient to the Father, and suffered, died, and rose again – when He came, that was a second Passover.
Christ was a kind, a type, of Moses. He told them to wait, and the Holy Spirit would descend on them.
And they did.
Moses saw God. The Apostles were indwelled by the Spirit of God. They became part of God, as God reached out and became part of them.
No longer would the law be written on tablets. No longer would the Law be in scrolls unable to be accessed by the “ordinary people.”
The Law would now be inscribed by the Spirit of God directly in the hearts and minds of the people.
Christ was a second Moses. The Holy Spirit gave a second Pentecost, a second delivery of the Law, to the people of God. Not just the people of God, the Children of God.
The promise of the Garden of Eden had come to pass. Humanity now had, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the ability to discern good and evil.
The serpent in the garden told the first humans that they would become “like God”. Trouble is, knowing the difference between good and evil, between right and wrong, doesn’t make us like God at all.
God is. He exists of himself. We can’t even understand what that means.
But the revelation in the celebration of Pentecost is that God loves us. We didn’t earn our redemption. We didn’t earn being indwelled with the Holy Spirit. God gave these things to us.
Because He loves us. Even though we are undeserving of His love. He loves us anyway.
While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. And the Holy Spirit is given to us.
Instead of a written law and the opinion of the Rabbi, we are given the author of the Law.
So we should learn to hear that which is inside us. That seems to be the lesson of the New Testament. In nearly every place, there is a reference to the direction of the Holy Spirit.
They knew how to hear that voice. And our life is about learning to hear that voice.
But we only hear that voice for ourselves. Exceedingly rare is the voice of prophecy. And even when it exists, it exists to exhort, to urge, not to command or compel.
In dealing with others, one thing stands clear: We do not judge. We love. We may offer what God does for us. But we love.
The Holy Spirit only allows us to see the difference between right and wrong for ourselves, not for anyone else.
So today, on Pentecost, begin to learn to listen, if you don’t already hear the voice within you. Some call it conscience. Some call it that small voice.
But God calls it the path to Himself.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God. Glory to Jesus Christ!