Sermon from June 12, 2022
The Feast of Pentecost John 7: 37 -52
By Fr Nicholas Karipoff
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Pentecost was and is to this day a powerful breath of life from our one God, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, sends the Holy Spirit from the Father to the people of God, to the Church. On this day, over two thousand years ago, this mighty Breath of Life was felt in the powerful sound of wind, seen as tongues of fire, and heard in the charismatic words of Apostle Peter. It energised the Church then and continues now to bring thousands of people into the Trinitarian life of unity and love.
As I was thinking about what I would say today, two examples of this living Breath of Life came to mind. I recently heard a talk between two Englishmen, a former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, and a writer based in Ireland, Paul Kingsnorth. Paul used to write on environmental topics and he’s also a poet. Their conversation is titled Conversion, Culture and the Cross. [Find it here on Youtube]. Paul shared the story of his conversion to Orthodoxy. Rowan Williams knows a lot about Orthodoxy on an intellectual level and has been drawn to it since his 20s, although he hasn’t become Orthodox. Paul explains his journey to becoming Orthodox in very straightforward language. He came from atheism and went through Zen Buddhism and even Wicca. He said that basically the Lord grabbed him by the hand and led him to where he needed to come. He was looking for a tangible manifestation of God in life, not just intellectual talk about Him which Christianity can slide into. Intellectual talk alone is not Church life.
The second example is a visitor from Indonesia we had twenty years ago, Fr Daniel. Fr Daniel shared his experiences of preaching to Muslims who wanted to hear about Christ. They had great difficulty in understanding the mystery of the Holy Trinity. In speaking to them he used a model that is used in the ancient Church tradition: the Father is like the mind, the Son is the Word and the Word comes out with Breath of the Spirit. We believe in one God. The breath of Life in the Church is what we are talking about today.
Those who need to see and touch in order to believe, like doubting Thomas, can go to the Holy Land because there are three public miracles that happen there every year: the Holy Fire of Great Saturday, the blessing of water in the Jordan River, and the cloud on Mt Tabor on Transfiguration. These happen every year. If we need to see the power of God in a tangible way, we can! But He said Himself to Thomas, more blessed are those who haven’t seen and yet believe. The Church of the apostles, martyrs, prophets and hierarchs has kept Pentecost alive for two thousand years. How? It is kept alive in the Eucharist, in the Liturgy.
Let us bring the living Breath of God from the Eucharist, from the Church, from our communion of love into our family life, into our community life and let us share it with the people in the world around us, even without saying a word specifically to them. Let the living breath of God live within us. Let Him speak to those people that are ready to come into the Church just like those three thousand who converted after the words of Peter at Pentecost.