Sunday, May 27, 2012

Dry Bones

Today is Pentecost, the celebration of the giving of the Holy Spirit. Scripture tells us that Jesus charged His disciples that it was to their advantage that He go so that the Advocate or Comforter or Paraclete would come and dwell with them.

That's a stretch for anyone. Why would it be to their advantage to trade a living Jesus for an Advocate that they cannot see? It's very hard to believe in things we can't see.

So, I prepared a nifty little sermon on trusting the testimony of the Holy Spirit and believing that the Holy Spirit will sustain and empower those called to the name Christian. I even asked how the congregation would feel if there was a Pentecost event right here, right now. You can read it by clicking HERE.

Service opened, I turned on the iPad for my sermon and found -- nothing. I had forgotten to load the sermon. I can't begin to describe the panic I felt as I looked out at a group of people who expected me to be clever, only to find my speech was gone. I was so shook I forgot to press "Play" on the recorder."

One of the passages I had made reference to was the story of Gideon in Judges 7.
2 The Lord said to Gideon, ‘The troops with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand. Israel would only take the credit away from me, saying, “My own hand has delivered me.” 3Now therefore proclaim this in the hearing of the troops, “Whoever is fearful and trembling, let him return home.” ’ Thus Gideon sifted them out;* twenty-two thousand returned, and ten thousand remained.
4 Then the Lord said to Gideon, ‘The troops are still too many; take them down to the water and I will sift them out for you there. When I say, “This one shall go with you”, he shall go with you; and when I say, “This one shall not go with you”, he shall not go.’ 5So he brought the troops down to the water; and the Lord said to Gideon, ‘All those who lap the water with their tongues, as a dog laps, you shall put to one side; all those who kneel down to drink, putting their hands to their mouths,* you shall put to the other side.’ 6The number of those that lapped was three hundred; but all the rest of the troops knelt down to drink water. 7Then the Lord said to Gideon, ‘With the three hundred that lapped I will deliver you, and give the Midianites into your hand. Let all the others go to their homes.’
 I preach from manuscript and that manuscript has now been taken away. My clever words that I cleverly write every week were somewhere up there in the ether where I couldn't reach them. That manuscript is what I thought delivered me every Sunday, and here it's gone.

And so, I preached as it was given me, and it was fine. Tell me God doesn't have a sense of irony! Any other Sunday, this would have been a source of anxiety only. On Pentecost Sunday, I believe I have been schooled, church. I believe I have been schooled.

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