Pentecost: Beyond History

Armodoxy for Today: From History to Sermon

The sermon begins “Today is Pentecost” followed by a story from the pages of the Book of Acts. We hear the story of the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Disciples, turning them into the evangelists for Christ’s Holy Church. What’s our take-away from this sermon? There was an event, on the 50th day after the Resurrection – pente, 50 – and with the reception of the Holy Spirit, the Apostles embarked on their sacred mission to evangelize the world.

This is what’s known as a history lesson in the guise of a sermon. The purpose of a sermon, unlike a history lesson, is to preach a lesson to the listener, a lesson which applies to their lives today. It was for this reason that Jesus promised the Disciples to send the Holy Spirit, so that they would not merely present Jesus as a figure of history, but as the Living God that affects and interacts with His children in their lives today, as He did 2000 years ago. Pentecost is the event that invites us to the holiness of the Church. It is in His Sacred Church, where that message is revealed.

When Jesus began his ministry, he invited the Disciple to “Come and follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19) At the end of his ministry on Earth he said to them, “Go and make disciple of all…” (Matthew 28:16-20) “Come” says Jesus to learn as my Disciples, “Go” says Christ to teach as my Apostles.

A simple but powerful prayer by St. Nersess Shnorhali reminds that the Holy Spirit has touched the Disciples and purified us by working and acting within us all. Today is a day to be receptive to the joy that fills our lives with godliness.

Spirit of God, true God, who descended on the river Jordan, and into the Upper Room; who enlightened me by the baptism of the Holy Font, I have sinned against heaven and before you. Purify me again with your divine fire, as the fiery tongues purified the Holy Apostles.
Have mercy upon your creatures, and on me, a sinner. Amen.

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