Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Inc.
The Church in Central New York founded and consistently fostered by the GLBTQIS community. October 31, 2018 was the 35th Anniversary in our 36th year in Ministry.
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Sermon for May 22 and 23, 1999
Pentecost, Year A

The following are the Scripture readings as scheduled in the "Revised Common Lectionary," an ecumenical schedule of readings of Holy Scripture. Our sermons are based on these readings.

Numbers 11:24-30
Pentecost, (Year A)

1:6 So when they had come together, they asked him, "Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?"

1:7 He replied, "It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority.

1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

1:9 When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.

1:10 While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them.

1:11 They said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven."

1:12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day's journey away.

1:13 When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James.

1:14 All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.

This is the Word Of The Lord; Thanks Be To God.

Pentecost, (Year A)

104:24 O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.

104:25 Yonder is the sea, great and wide, creeping things innumerable are there, living things both small and great.

104:26 There go the ships, and Leviathan that you formed to sport in it.

104:27 These all look to you to give them their food in due season;

104:28 when you give to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.

104:29 When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.

104:29 When you send forth your spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the ground.

104:30 May the glory of the LORD endure forever; may the LORD rejoice in his works--

104:31 who looks onthe earth and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke.

104:32 I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being.

104:33 May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the LORD.

104:35b Bless the LORD, O my soul. Praise the LORD!

1 Corinthians 12:3b-13
Pentecost, (Year A)

. 12:3b No one can say "Jesus is Lord" except by the Holy Spirit.

12:4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit;

12:5 and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord;

12:6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone.

12:7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

12:8 To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit,

12:9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit,

12:10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.

12:11 All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.

12:12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.

12:13 For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body--Jews or Greeks, slaves or free--and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

This is the Word Of The Lord; Thanks Be To God.

John 7:37-39
Pentecost, (Year A)

7:37 On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, "Let anyone who is thirsty come to me,

7:38 and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, 'Out of the believer's heart shall flow rivers of living water.'"

7:39 Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

Reader: This is the Gospel of the Lord; Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

Brother Benedict, Sermon 175

Pentecost, 1999

Numbers 11:24-30
Psalm 104:24-34,35
1 Cor.12:3b-13
John 7:37-39

As I said two weeks ago I have been looking forward to connecting the Pentecost event to the Mount Sinai event through this sermon.

Pentecost is a Jewish Feast. Like the other Jewish Feasts it has changed and developed over the centuries. God instituted the Feast of Pentecost to remind the people that every good gift comes from God. Remember, Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as the promised gift of God. In Leviticus 23:15-22 we have the original instructions on how the Chosen People were to celebrate this Feast of the Lord.

These instructions were given years before they actually celebrated their first harvest in the promised land.

The parallels to our Season of the Resurrection are so amazing when we remember our Resurrection Season started with the Passover. Likewise, it took forty-seven days to travel from the Red Sea to the foothills of Mount Sinai. Once they had arrived, God instructed Moses to have the people purify themselves in preparation for a sinful people to meet their holy God. The preparation took three days. Moses told the people God desired to meet with them. Exodus 19:8 says they replied: "All that the Lord has spoken we will do." Fifty days after the Red Sea, and the Feast of Passover, Israel approached Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments.

The Bible tells us as Moses ascended the mountain, the ground shook, and mighty wind blew and roared in the desert below. Fire was seen as though the top of the mountain was on fire. Notice the parallels to the mighty wind that blew in the Upper Room and the tongues of fire that appeared over the heads of the 120 believers when the Holy Spirit came on Pentecost.

To help us see the wisdom of this, I am again using the book; "His Glory Revealed," by Pastor John Hagee for most of this material. On page, 73 he writes: "According to the Midrash, a rabbinical commentary on the Scriptures, when God gave the Torah He displayed untold marvels to Israel with His voice. God spoke and the voice reverberated throughout the whole world, and all the people witnessed the thundering (Ex. 20:18). According to Jewish tradition, when God spoke to Moses, He not only spoke in Hebrew, but His voice split into seventy voices, in seventy languages, so that all the nations should understand...." (Hagee, pg., 74) Pastor Hagee got this information from material he found on Hebraic Heritage Ministries Internationalís Web page: http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/2175/chp6.html. John Hagee shows the reason there were seventy languages because the nations were formed according the number of the children of Israel. Exodus 1:1-5 says the number of children who came to Egypt at the invitation of Joseph was seventy and this is why the rabbis believe God spoke in seventy languages. Of course the Midrash is rabbinical dogma, but it is worth thinking about. What is amazing about this possibility is that at the Feast of Pentecost, atop Mount Sinai, God set the stage for the Pentecost coming of the Holy Spirit fifty days after Jesus rose from the dead. The Israelites didnít realize that as they heard the trumpet and watched the fire of God descending upon Mount Sinai with the powerful rushing winds, they were seeing something God would do for the Bride of Christ on the same Feast, the Feast of Pentecost after Jesus ascended to heaven.

Hidden in these two Pentecost events is the meaning behind the two leavened loaves of bread that God was about to dictate be offered on Pentecost. One loaf represented Israel, Godís Chosen People and the first giving of the Law of God at Mt. Sinai, the first Covenant; the second loaf represented the Church, the Bride of Christ the people who would receive the New Covenant of God described in Jeremiah 31:31. Why would God require leavened bread when leaven represents sin in the Bible? Perhaps it is because though God had two Chosen People, Israel and the Church, God knew they would remain a sinful people all the days they remained in their natural bodies and so God takes the sacrificial bread with leaven in it. God was also showing that God would make a way for the Chosen People and the Bride of Christ would be able to deal with their sins. God would provide the Lamb and the sacrifice.

The Prophet Jeremiah recorded the prophecy of the New Covenant that Jesus would initiate. The New Covenant would not be written on tablets of stone as was the old one, but would be written on the hearts of the covenant people. Lets read that covenant: "Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah - not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord. But this covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people." (Jer. 31:31-33)

This new Covenant was established by Jesus fifty days after the Passover Sabbath, during the Feast of Weeks. It was established by God in the giving of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.

The second version (or development) of Pentecost was not viewed as important as the first, according to author Hayyim Schauss. He writes that during the period of the second temple, the time of Christ, Pentecost "did not play a great role in the Jewish life... It was obviously a festival observed only in the Temple, and not to any noticeable extent outside of Jerusalem. The holiday first attained importance when it became the festival of the giving of the Torah, of God revealing Himself on Mount Sinai." (Hagee, pg. 79 quoting Schauss, The Jewish Festivals, pg. 89). Although the Festival of Pentecost was not as important in the time of Christ as it was in the time of Moses, it was still a pilgrimage festival, meaning thousands of Jews returned to Jerusalem to fulfill the commands of the Lord. Therefore, on the Day of Pentecost described in Acts we can be sure people were there from every corner of the known earth.

What is amazing is nearly every aspect of the Mount Sinai event was repeated on the Christian Pentecost when God honored the Bride of Christ, the second leavened loaf, the recipients of the New Covenant. There were 120 men gathered in the upper room. At first that doesnít sound significant but listen to this. In order to have a synagogue or a congregation Jewish law required ten people, this is called a minyan. This may mean there were ten people from each of the twelve tribes of Israel present when the Holy Spirit descended on the Church. There was a mighty rushing wind just like at Mt. Sinai. The fire rested over the heads of the believers similar to the way it appeared on Mt. Sinai.

Just as God spoke in every known language at Mt. Sinai, so the disciples began to speak in every language that was in Jerusalem for the Feast of Pentecost (Acts 2:6). This time God expanded the scope of the event by giving holy empowerment to the Bride Of Christ and making apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, administrators, and other servants of the church from the women and the men who were present. This time the Commandments of God were written on the human heart (Jer. 31:33; 2 Cor. 3:3). When Moses came down the mountain and found Israel lost in idolatry three thousand died because of their unbelief, but on the Christian Pentecost, three thousand became believers and were saved. We understand the Law was written on stone and given in the letter at Mt. Sinai, but the Spirit of the Law was given at Christian Pentecost and written on individual believerís hearts. (Rom. 2:29; 7:6). This time power came.

Paul proclaimed, "For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power." (1 Cor. 4:20) The word power is from the Greek word dunamis, (Strongís # 1411). It means force, specifically a miraculous power, power, strength, mighty (wonderful) work... and from it we get English words like dynamite, dynamic, dynamism, etc. This was power from God to do the very works of God. From that day there was power in His Name, power in His Gospel, power in the Blood of Christ, power in the Body of Christ, and power in the church. Now, the Holy Spirit was charged with continuing the very ministry of Jesus in the hearts and in the bodies of believers.

How do we bring this home to each of us personally. The Holy Spirit is given to us for the purpose of evangelization. We have discovered that simply being here and opening the doors is not enough to bring the people in who need the Gospel. No, instead, the Holy Spirit gives us the divine power to be able to go forth and witness to others about the great works of God. All of us know many people who have not heard the full Gospel of Christ with its totally awesome and healing truths. The truth is we sometimes feel shy, or we lack the confidence we need to bring Christ into our conversations or situations. What we need to realize is we are not asked to witness to God on our own power and ability. This is the work of Jesus Christ in the world and the Holy Spirit is there to empower us to be able to do this work. In other words we must rely on the Holy Spirit within us to do the witnessing and spreading of the Gospel.

The Holy Spirit comes with many different gifts of ministry to the Church so that we can successfully be the Body Of Christ. The second reading said some of these gifts are words of wisdom, words of knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, working of miracles, gifts of prophecy, discernment of spirits, and the gift of tongues. Paul said; "All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses." (1 Cor 12:8-11)

All of the functions of the Holy Spirit are in answer to Godí promise and to the promise of Jesus to give the Church the Holy Spirit so that the ministry of Jesus may continue. It isnít enough to be members of the church. We must be filled with the Holy Spirit for their to be any living ministry of Christ. As this season of Pentecost opens this weekend let us begin a tremendous season of growth and open our hearts to have the New Covenant written on our hearts and to be made into the living Body Of Christ.
. May Almighty God bless all of us, in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

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