“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place . . . All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit”
If I were to ask you to come up with ten things you know about God the Father or Jesus Christ you would probably have no problem at all. If I were to ask, “tell me ten things you know about the Holy Spirit,” many people would be hard pressed to come up with them. I think the reason for that is that the Holy Spirit has done an excellent job with us. It’s the Spirit’s one and only purpose to point us to Jesus our Savior and to instill in us faith in Jesus for the salvation of our souls. His purpose is all tied up in the idea of unity. There is one way to the Father and that is Jesus Christ. There is “one body and one Spirit - just as you were called to one hope when you were called - one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” As we celebrate Pentecost this month and the coming of the Holy Spirit as promised by our Savior Jesus we celebrate the unity that He comes to bring.
First there is the local unity of the church. In our text for today the small band of believers are all together in one place. The total number of believers is noted as about 120 souls. That’s not much more than our weekly attendance. They were the disciples, the women who followed Jesus, His mother Mary and His brothers and sisters as well as others. Many in number, but all come together, drawn by one common impulse one common faith - faith in a risen Savior. All the different reasons and motives which should have kept them apart were all set aside. There were rich and poor, men and women, educated and simple, fisherman, tax collector, zealot and yet all of this was set aside and there was unity.
Working with their common faith in Jesus was the fact that they kept the main thing the main thing. That is the focus and ministry of our congregation. Keeping the main thing - Jesus - the main thing! This brings our unity. For 136 years we, and those before us, have gathered together in one place. We share the unity of this congregation. From our founding families to our newest members we are doing the exact same thing here that those first Christians did in Jerusalem 2000 years ago. The Bible tells us that they gathered together to devote themselves “to the apostles’ teachings to the breaking of bread and prayer.” We gather together in one place, to devote ourselves the apostles’ teachings - the words of Holy Scripture; to the breaking of bread - the Lord’s Supper; to prayer - when we raise our prayers and petitions to God.
This evil world and the working against the Church by Satan through the recent pandemic have threatened to disrupt our unity. But the never-failing means of grace and the abiding presence of our Savior Jesus has held us together as has always been. Praise be to God for this unity of the Spirit!
Yet we are unified by the Spirit not by being made cookie cutter duplicates but by a blending together of our diversity into the Body of Christ. We are not individual bricks, we are a wall in the temple of the Spirit. We are not individual cells, we are a body working together to the glory of God. All this under Christ from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
Trinity, is there unity among us? I think there is and that will remain as long as we submit to God’s will and follow His Word by the leading of the Holy Spirit. Is there unity between my ministry and yours? I believe there is. Let’s pray that the Spirit keeps us walking together. Is there a unity of faith among us? There is and there will be as we daily study God’s holy Word and receive strength for our faith in His holy Sacraments. Is there a unity of will and purpose? Yes, the saving of the world through the message of Jesus Christ which we share. Let’s pray the Holy Spirit to show us the best way for us to do that together. “But pastor, there’s no way our little church can change the whole world.” You’re right we can’t - but God can through us. Just ask 120 faithful believers some 2000 years ago and they will tell you the world can be changed by God working through His people - through the saving message of Jesus Christ our Savior and the power of the Holy Spirit to work the loving will of the Father.