Worship Service of Churchill Gilford United Churches
May 23, 2021
Sermon Igniting the Spirit
It’s a good job that May 24 was not around in Jesus day. If someone shows up to work next Tuesday and tells people a story of how they were in a room and there were tongues of fire on everyone’s head and then there was a big wind and after that everyone could speak several languages at the same time, your co-workers would just ask how much of what, you had to drink.
Even in that day that was the accusation against the disciples.
A story like that is hard to believe in any era. Yet that is the story we have. This day is called Pentecost Sunday and it is the celebration of the Spirit coming to the disciples.
The story starts with the disciples gathered all together in what we think was the Upper Room. Jerusalem was full of people because it was a Jewish holy week and many had come to celebrate Pentecost.. Pente means fifty and it is the Jewish observance of the fiftieth day after the Passover.
When it became such a significant day in the Christian faith, the early church took the term and used it to as a Christian term. Pentecost is now celebrated fifty days after Easter.
We have no way of knowing if the facts as presented actually took place in that way, or on that day but it doesn’t matter. Something happened.
For years the Church has formalized the Holy Spirit (used to be called the Holy Ghost) into an entity, part of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit was and for many is, on a par with God and Jesus. The difficulty with that theology is that it isolates and itemizes the Spirit. It becomes something that is separate from the human being.
The other difficulty with that theology is that it implies that the Spirit entered the world after Jesus. There are many accounts of God in Spirit being active in the world before Jesus. For example the Spirit appears as a dove at Jesus baptism.
Perhaps a better way is to imagine what happened is to think of the Spirit as igniting instead of entering.
I remember being told by a Scout leader in the church, how they used to light their special campfires. The campfire was set up, (maybe with a little gasoline in it) and then a long string was tied to a tree. A flaming rag or something was allowed to slide down the string and of course when it got to the campfire everything burst into flame.
The point is that there was already something there to ignite. If the flame had just hit bare ground it would simply have gone out.
You have often heard that inside everyone is a divine spark. A little piece – if you will- of the Holy Spirit resides in us all. We are not alone.
That opens a lot of doors.
We are starting to realise that every human being has that spark, regardless of where they live or what religious exposure they have been raised with; regardless of their culture or heritage.
More and more we are understanding or contemplating the idea that animals and even plants have some kind of spiritual connection.
There have been a lot of barriers imposed over the years. Many groups have tried to own the Spirit or at least control it by setting limitations or conditions, but when we realise that the spark resides within each person the barriers disappear.
I remember a couple who seemed to have a lot of barriers in their relationship. They came from two different cultures, two different areas, two different religions and neither could speak a word of the other’s language. They got married. When people questioned them and said “What do you have in common”? They – (well one of them)- responded “Love – what else do you need?”
When the disciples went out onto the porch and spoke to the crowds, the record says that everyone could hear them in their own language. Maybe that wasn’t Latin or Greek or Aramaic or Hebrew. Maybe it was a spiritual language that they heard. Maybe they could hear each other because they were listening with the same spirit.
How often have you known what someone was going to say before they said it because you were on “the same wave length”?
If we realise that we already have the spirit in us then we simply have to
open the channels to receive the spark.
Again the best example is to use the illustration of the campfire. If the flame slid down the rope but ended up in an empty pit, it wouldn’t light. If it slid down and found the wood was wet, it wouldn’t light.
The disciples had spent three years with Jesus. They were in-tuned to him. They understood some of the ways of listening to the spirit. If their hearts had been full of hatred and anger, they would not have been able to ignite or energize their souls.
I believe that everyone has the spiritual capacity. We all have the same ability to receive the energy of the spirit just as the disciples did.
This weekend when you light the bonfire, watch and imagine that we all have that capability to be set on fire. Notice the glow and the warmth and remember Penetcost: the igniting of your Spirit.
God you created us in your image, with a divine spark within. When we look at others help us to see that flame. May we not be overwhelmed with the physical attractions or the monetary distraction: may we not be deceived by the noise and glamour: may we hear the voice of the Spirit trying to give us hope and power. May we be consumed by love, both giving and receiving. May we be ignited by the flame of the Spirit.
We pray also for the duration of the ceasefire in the middle east and anywhere else in the world where peace is struggling to survive. We pray in silence for any situation or person who needs prayer.
Now we pray in the way Jesus taught us.
Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed by thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. lead us not into temptation. but deliver us from evil. for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory. forever and ever Amen
SERVICE May 23, 2021
Etransfer info at bottom of page
Thanks to helpers: Cathy, Hugh Marion
Spirit of Life, Wind of God who moves over the face of all creation. We are humbled before you and we praise you asking that we may be filled with that Spirit in this time of worship.
Hymn -It only takes a Spark 289
Scripture Acts 2: 1-8
Hymn Spirit of Gentleness 375
Go now in Peace
Go now in peace, Never be afraid
God will go with you, each hour of every day
Go now in faith, steadfast strong and true
Know God will guide you in all you do,
Go now in love and show you believe
Reach out to others so all the world can see
God will be there, watching from above
Go now in peace, in faith and in love
Amen, Amen, Amen
Info about contributing
The traditional way is to send a cheque via mail to one of the treasurers.
Make the cheque out to:
Churchill United Church
send to Agnes Cole at 226 Valleyview Dr. Churchill, Ont L0L1K0
or Gilford United Church
send to Doris Coborn at 1468 Gilford Rd, Gilford. L0L1R0
An Alternative (and better) way is Etransfer
(This method is faster, cheaper and cleaner. If you don’t know how to do it, the bank or some young kid has instructions)
Send the Etransfer to
The security question is – What is the name of your church
Answer – Churchill
No security question
Another option is contact us and we will pick it up from your porch. Thanks