Sermon Study Guide – St. Thomas’ Church, St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador

 

(Date: 27 May 2012)              “Saying Goodbye”               Acts 2:1-21 and John 15:26-27;16:4b-15

 

  1. 1.    In this week’s gospel Jesus talks to His disciples about what will happen when he leaves them…for a little while. Clearly they didn’t have a clue what Jesus was talking about (see John 16:17-19). Do you blame them? How are you at saying goodbye? Is it harder for you to be the one leaving home or the one left behind? Why do you think that is so?

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Leader’s Guide:

What are the disciples feeling in the John reading? What is their grief keeping them from understanding? How would you paraphrase the three goals of the Holy Spirit’s work (vv. 8-11)? Therefore, why is it good for Jesus to go away? If you were a disciple (which you really are, but that is another scenario…) who would you feel after hearing Jesus say verse 16? Has Jesus ever said anything to you that you could hardly bear (v. 12)? What happened? Of the various roles of the Holy Spirit described here (in 8-11), which one have you come to appreciate lately? Why?

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  1. 2.    Utterly amazed, they asked: “Are not all these who speak Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them speak in his own native language?” (Acts 2:7). Look at the manner in which the Holy Spirit comes: the sound is “like the rush of a violent wind” (v. 2); and then, “divided tongues, as of fire” (v. 3). Luke attempts to describe the event in human terms, but it is never possible to explain a divine mystery: all we can do is say what it is like. The coming of the Holy Spirit is the gift inaugurating the final stage of the salvation story (or history, chronology); this era leads up to the end of time. His arrival is in fulfilment of Christ’s promise, recorded in Acts1:8.

Acts is about mission, about speaking, proclaiming, the good news to people everywhere, in languages (and language) they can understand; Luke tells us that the Holy Spirit is the driving force behind this work, e.g. in the story of the Ethiopian Eunuch, we read “the Spirit said to Philip …” (8:29). They spoke “in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability” (v. 4). Divided into nations in antiquity, now all humanity is one; now God is in our midst. The Spirit is the launching pad for this mission. The list in vv. 9-11 includes Jews from the whole of the known world.

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Leader’s Guide:

Why did God wait until Pentecost, a Jewish harvest festival (Dt 16:9-10) to give the Holy Spirit? How far have these pilgrims come (vv. 9-11)? What attracts them to the disciples? How does being filled with the Spirit relate to bearing witness to Jesus? How have you seen this truth lived out in your own life? Would you respond more like those in v. 12 or v. 13? Why? Have you ever seen the gifts of tongues used this way? Another way? When have you experienced an empowering from God to witness about Christ?

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O GOD, who makes us glad with the yearly remembrance of the coming of the Holy Spirit upon your disciples in Jerusalem: Grant that we who now celebrate the Feast of Pentecost may continue yours for ever, and daily increase in your Holy Spirit, until we come to your eternal kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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