Make Your Hearts a Sanctuary
Pentecost 4 June 2017
This is the one feast, holiday in common parlance, of the church year that no one has turned into some type of secular spectacle or com-mercial venture. I think I know the reason: the Holy Spirit. No one in his or her right mind wants to come near the thing!! Now it is true the Spirit is described in many ways, not the least of which is comforter, advocate and intercessor, companion, even coach. It is all these things. When you associate the Holy Spirit with its more evangelic side it does not make for a good commercial product like a nativity scene or a cross does. I am rather quiet by nature, an introvert, so that more daring side of the Holy Spirit is a bit like my friends in childhood who dared me to do something, except the Holy Spirit does not dare you but rather tells you that you can and that God is with you. It doesn’t mean you won’t have troubles if you follow her, just like a usually ended up facing an angry parent when I succumbed to the dare. But without that nudge from the Holy Spirit we would have no church. Feeling those tongues of fire led the early disciples to do incredible work. There are times when you are called and led by that same wild spirit. The problem is when it does come to you, running from it ultimately does no good. It will find you!! Hard to find a way to market that commercially. Moses saw the spirit in another way: he needed help in leadership and God answered by taking some of his “spirit” or leadership qualities and apportioning it among other selected people. But it was also given to two who were not among the chosen seventy. The Holy Spirit is not un-der our control; we do not give it or take it away and we must trust the wisdom of God. The psalmist speaks of spirit as that sent from God which creates life and renews the earth. So you see the work of the Spirit does not fit into nice neat categories. But it is John’s words that echo most strongly and perhaps most strangely in my ears. Jesus’s speech takes place at Pentecost, which is fifty days after the Passover. Here the Holy Spirit and the living water of Jesus become one. How can that be? It speaks to the great human need that is all around us. Many of us lead lives of quiet discontent to which the purveyors of goods and services are quite happy to provide answers in the form of the latest diet fad, a faster sleeker car, better looks. Come to me and I will satisfy your thirst to be thin, sexy, the center of attention!! All you must do is buy this or that!! Surprise. There is no living water there, your thirst will never be satisfied. Anoth-er glass of wine or the latest soda concoction just won’t do it anymore. You must realize that what you are looking for is living water, the kind that only Jesus has. Instead, like an addiction, you go on the hunt for something even better. Yet the answer is no further than your ability to pray. I guess that is why twelve step programs work: you finally get to the point where only living water can satisfy you and you give yourself to God. Revelations ends with a vision of the City of God and its fountains that flow out, providing a never-ending source of water for all. So we turn to Jesus and receive that never ending source of water, we receive that Holy Spirit to be with us and remain with us forever. There is no more need to search out the fastest car, or maybe in Iowa the biggest pickup, no more need to strive in vain to be eternally young and superficially beautiful. Yet drinking the living water does something else to us and for us: we become living waters ourselves. We become a source of light and life for others. We join in the dance with the Holy Spirit, become part of the life of the Godhead. If Jesus came to show us how to be in relation to God, the Holy Spirit became our connection with God. Think of it: living waters flowing from you. It is unceasing and eternal. Jesus is not confined to our hearts; we are not saved at all if we keep him there as a memorial and shrine. Our lives then become more and more like his, giving life to not only ourselves but those around us. You are a holy person, set aside by the holy spirit, to live a life that is Christ life and shared with others. If you open up yourself there is no limit to the waters that flow from your heart.
Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary Pure and holy, tried and true With thanksgiving, I'll be a living Sanctuary for You