Sunday, May 28, 2023

Empowered to Minister Forgiveness


Today we celebrate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. Some days of celebration on the Christian calendar come at times when current events in our daily lives make celebration difficult. The first Pentecost was celebrated shortly after Jesus’ death and resurrection and ascension at the beginning of a great persecution of Christians that intensified over several hundred years. Yet, we, as they did, celebrate that God is with us in the midst of all our heartbreaks and sorrows to strengthen and guide us. Jesus called the Holy Spirit the “Comforter,”[i] and we are so very thankful for the comfort she brings in difficult times. Francis Bottome wrote in his hymn,[ii]

The Comforter has come, the Comforter has come!
The Holy Ghost from heaven, the Father's promise given;

 The first empowerment of the Holy Ghost specified by Jesus after the Resurrection is the power to forgive sins. Paul further addressed in his writings the additional powers to minister spiritual gifts and to bear spiritual fruits. Together, these powers enable us to learn how to keep the commandment of Jesus, to love others as Christ has loved us,[iii] and to serve the world in the ministry of God’s unconditional, universal forgiveness and love.

 God’s dream always was to pour out the Holy Spirit on all humanity, inclusively and without exception, as Peter explained on the Day of Pentecost, citing the prophet Joel. We are empowered individually and collectively, as Jesus promised at his Ascension: “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.”[iv]  

 Our acceptance of this empowerment is a personal decision we make in our relationship with God.

Excerpt from the manuscript and audio of the sermon preached by 
Rev. Bill Lawson on May 28, 2023, at Briensburg UMC.

For the Complete Sermon: [ E-Book | PDF | MP3 Audio ]

[i] John 16:7 (KJV).
[ii] Francis Bottome. “The Comforter Has Come,” 1890. Hymnary. Web.  26 May 2023.
[iii] John 13:34.
[iv] Luke 24:49 (KJV).

Image: Gerd Altman. “Pentecost,” 2018. PixabayWeb. 27 May 2023. 

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