A Faith That Is Dynamite!

Rebecca Sheridan
Sunday, May 19, 2024
Acts 2:1-21

    “When will I know enough to be confirmed?”  This is a common question from our confirmation students (or their parents) at the beginning of our two years of classes.  “Am I good enough to go to heaven?”  This is another question people often ask me, especially older people who are thinking about their own death.  “Will God forgive me enough?”  In our day to day lives, we encounter many times where we wonder, “is it enough?”  Do I know enough?  Have I done a good enough job?  Do I have enough money?  Am I smart enough?  Physically fit enough?  Pretty enough?  Am I enough?  We may call this voice our inner critic. St. Ignatius more strongly called it “the inner tyrant” which constantly demands more from us and is never satisfied with enough. Our faith tells us a different story – we are enough, because God is enough.
    At that first Pentecost in Acts 2 where the believers are all together in one place the Holy Spirit comes with a violent rush of wind and fills the entire house, tongues of fire rest upon each of them, and they begin to be able to understand one another even though they are speaking in different languages.  They ask the question that any of us who have read Luther’s small catechism know is Luther’s favorite question, “What does this mean?”  And Peter’s answer in his great sermon is that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved,” because Jesus is enough, the Holy Spirit is enough to fill each one of us, to save every one of us, to give us enough understanding that we know to rely on God and rather than on our own power.      Yet, there are some who sneer and say, “They are filled with new wine.”  Even in the Bible, people have to deal with the haters, the naysayers, the “inner tyrants” and the outer critics.  What an important reminder this Pentecost that God has poured out his Spirit upon all flesh, the Holy Spirit has filled this room, and even as we simply breathe in and out, we have this consistent, ever-important reminder that because God is enough, we are enough, no matter what the critical voices within and without say.
    So, confirmands, do you know enough yet?  One answer (as we’ve talked about) is, “no!” Even I as a pastor don’t know everything or have all of the answers!  Asking questions and joining Jesus on a journey of learning and faith is lifelong – in fact, I worry about people who have stopped asking questions like “What does this mean?”  If we think we have this life all figured out, we have stopped relying on God and God’s power for understanding.  Faith is not having all the answers but is seeking understanding.  This however doesn’t mean that we don’t know anything or can’t do anything!  
In all three of our scripture readings today in Acts, Romans, and Joyn, the Holy Spirit’s power is described in the Greek using the same word that we get “dynamite” from in English.  Certainly, the Holy Spirit coming upon the believers at Pentecost was not some kind of misty/mysterious personal spiritual experience but an explosive presence that inspires the early church to action – three thousand people are baptized, they devote themselves to learning from the apostles, they gather for fellowship with one another, they break bread together and pray with one another, they care for one another out of their generosity and sharing of resources.  This all happens in just chapter 2 of Acts!  The Holy Spirit’s explosive power is an instrument of positive, collective change, and it still is today.  The Holy Spirit gives us a living, dynamic faith that is open to change, growth, and lifelong learning!
    So in the very description of the Holy Spirit’s power, we understand that God’s Spirit is both dynamic and inspirational.  We gathered this morning to baptize and confirm three amazing young people, but their faith journey doesn’t stop here.  Confirmation is not a graduation rite for a stagnant faith but an initiation rite to welcome young people into an adult life of faith – to continue on the journey, to be open to the Spirit’s guiding us and transforming us, so that we are not the same Christians we were at fourteen when we’re forty, or eighty.  The Holy Spirit changes us for the better, and the Holy Spirit helps us embrace change to not just “feel” in a spiritual sense God’s presence but see God’s active, continuing activity in our lives!  
And the other answer to the question, “Do I know enough?” equally true, is “yes, you know enough,” because if you know to call on the name of the Lord, to rely on the Holy Spirit’s power and not your own, that is enough – that kind of faith is enough.  Knowing that God is enough for us is enough – that in God there is always enough, enough knowledge, enough resources, enough forgiveness and mercy, to save us.  Paul encourages us in his letter to the Romans today that the Spirit helps us in our weakness when we do not know how to pray, but that very Spirit intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words.  God’s Spirit gives us the words to pray, fills us with the hope that we need, and helps us in our weakness when we feel that we are not enough.
    And so, on this Pentecost Sunday where we witness the baptism of Gabby and confirmations of Patrick and Ty, may we be inspired and reignited to have a faith that is dynamite and dynamic; tuned in to the power of the Holy Spirit working among us, seeking to grown in faith and at the same time trusting that God is in fact more than enough.  May we ask again and again, “What difference does it make that I am baptized?” and then respond to God’s answer.  The Holy Spirit is filling this place just as it did 2000 years ago.  Whether we have been consistent in our faith for a long time or are newer on the journey, may we be open to the Spirit’s leading us and guiding us.  Amen