Sermon by Gail Fricker for Parkview United Church May 10, 2013 Pentecost Sunday. Sermon Topic: Live, Laugh, Dance


Sermon by Gail Fricker for Parkview United Church May 10, 2013 Pentecost Sunday.  Sermon Topic: Live, Laugh, Dance


Scripture: Acts 2: 1-21 Romans 8: 14-17

Gospel: John 14: 15-28 (focus V 17)

In the Christian year, Pentecost falls 50 days after Easter, and it marks the coming of the Holy Spirit. It is the beginning of the Christian church, when the disciples were able to carry out their ministries because of the Spirit. In a sense, Easter is completed by Pentecost. Without Pentecost, Easter would mean that Christ had departed, leaving behind confused and uncertain disciples, who as we know – went back to fishing. But with Pentecost, Jesus promised not to leave his disciples all alone, like an orphan – he promised them that the Spirit will come.


So what is the Holy Spirit? I asked a few people in our congregation that question, and I received a variety of answers:

  • It’s the feeling of comfort
  • It’s love that we have for all humanity
  • And one of my favorite answers:
  • It’s like the feeling you get when a good friend calls you out of the blue just when you need them to – the Holy Spirit is your good friend

What is the Holy Spirit is a question that Jesus’ disciples also asked, when Jesus told them that he would be leaving? In His answer, Jesus called the Spirit many things including : Counselor, Teacher, Guide, Helper – and perhaps in some translations you will find the word “friend”. In our gospel lesson it tells us that Jesus said:

“… the Counselor, the Holy Spirit , whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things, and remind you of everything I have said to you.”

I suspect that when Jesus said this – his disciples were confused. I am not sure if the disciples fully understood what Jesus was talking about –

I suspect that they asked themselves: “how will they experience the Spirit?”

And that’s a question that we should ask ourselves today – “How do we experience the Spirit?”

Again, some members of our congregation answered this question the following ways:

  • A sense of calmness of heart and mind comes over me when praying for guidance,
  • It’s like a voice speaking to me
  • I feel a sense of inner peace and joy, a serenity
  • With the Holy Spirit, I feel that I am never alone
  • It gives me confidence and strength
  • I experience it through the mysteries in the clouds, the laughter of a child, the joy of a baby being born

Some of these may sound familiar to you. How do YOU experience the Holy Spirit?

In the book Heart of Christianity that some of us have been reading with Rev Tom, the author Marcus Borg talks about “Thin Places” as a place to experience the Holy Spirit – a place where “ the veil momentarily lifts and we experience God” A ‘Thin Place’ could be any where that our hearts are opened – in nature perhaps, wilderness, through music, poetry, dance or visual arts. Or perhaps our ‘Thin Place’ is in time of serious illness or grief when we feel God’s presence through His Spirit. In our Christian practices it might be through our worship, through the anthems sung by our choir, through scripture readings, through prayer, or through sermons.



In Acts, we are told a story of how the Holy Spirit first came to the people – and personally I would describe it as a frightening experience. It is described like the sound of a “violent wind filling the whole house” – and looked like “tongues of fire.” Well if you remember the Stratford ice storm just a month ago, or if you’ve witnessed a burning building – I think you can imagine how the experience of the arrival of the Holy Spirit was frightening. And on top of that – there were people raising their voices in all different languages. It is no wonder that the people were “amazed and perplexed.” So how do we respond today?


Perhaps it is hard to say how we experience the Spirit because it is not something that we can touch or see. It requires faith, because it is not something that we can explain logically or scientifically. Jesus warned his disciples that people will not accept the Holy Spirit because they can not see Him or know Him. But it is something that we can ‘feel.’

Sometimes we may feel it in a gentle, reassuring way. I remember when I was backpacking through Mexico in my late 20’s. I was alone, feeling a little vulnerable as a single woman, and beginning to question why I was doing this. At that time, like most people in their early 20’s, I was also questioning everything about the Church, and I had begun to drift away from my childhood Sunday School teachings. But for some reason I still wandered into a church in Oaxaca , thinking perhaps that at least I would be safe there from the glare of the Mexican men. And in my heart, I remember that I found myself saying a silent prayer for help and reassurance. I don’t know why I was praying, because I most certainly wasn’t expecting an answer. So, suddenly, when a voice called my name – Gail – you can imagine how I nearly jumped out of my skin. I thought I was hearing things. The voice of God? But, when I turned around, behind me stood some old friends that I had known from my childhood church in England. I hadn’t seen them for maybe 15 years or so, and here we were, several thousand miles from where we all grew up. Now, you could say that it was a coincidence if you like. But a friend of mine once told me that there is no such thing as coincidences – they are all God incidences. I, still today, believe that it was the Holy Spirit that gently guided me into that church, keeping me safe, and leading me into great conversations about my faith which was the beginning of my journey back to Christ. I had experienced the Holy Spirit as a guide and as a counselor.

Or for some of you, your experience of the Holy Spirit may be more like a torrent shaking you from a state of complacency. We all too easily get comfortable in day to day living, when suddenly something stirs us to start thinking. In my same travels, I also found myself at a Billy Graham concert in Seattle. The Spirit was most definitely in that arena, and it was just like a rushing wind, as people came forward in the hundreds to seek Christ, and be stirred from their day to day complacency.



So how do you experience the Spirit? Maybe you are sitting here today and wonder if you have ever experienced God’s Spirit. Well let me reassure you, it really is very simple – each one of you here is God’s child, and so, each one of you has received God’s Spirit. Just like a child receives life from a parent, we receive the life force of God, which is his Holy Spirit. The question that we must ask ourselves is : do we allow the Spirit within us to be as Jesus promised: our Counselor, our Teacher, our Guide, and our Helper. What is that stands in our way from allowing the Spirit to be all that Jesus promised? Perhaps you are comfortable in your daily routine, and are frightened that you just wouldn’t know what to say to a neighbor in need or grief. Or perhaps we are frightened that God, through the Spirit, will ask us to step outside our comfort zone – I know that was Blair’s fear when I suggested that we go and volunteer in a village in Kenya. The look on his face said it all! He didn’t know what to expect, would we be safe? what about the food? And how would we travel on the roads? etc,, etc. But even he will tell you, that on reflection, God’s Spirit was with us throughout – even in the toughest times.

You see Jesus promised us that through the Spirit, he left us Peace:

“… my peace I give you. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

A friend once told me that we are only given as much in life as we can handle. And that is kind of like living with the Spirit. You might be challenged, guided, reminded …. But as you leave here today, remember too not to be afraid. The Spirit of God is always with you – even in Oaxaca – so never feel alone – live, laugh, dance, and sing in the Spirit.