06092019 Pentecost Sunday Emmanuel Lutheran Export PA

“We are to call upon the name of the Lord!”

06092019 Pentecost Sunday Emmanuel Lutheran Export PA

June 9, 2019
“We are to call upon the name of the Lord!Acts 2:21”
Sermon Audio

If one were to read this passage that records the first Pentecost, the events of the day clearly evoke feelings of fear, wonder and bewilderment.  The disciples witnessed the ‘rush of the wind’, the ‘tongues of fire’ resting upon their heads and then each person spoke, not in the ‘common tongue’, but spoke in ‘other tongues’.  To witness this it could easily be said, the hair on the backs of the necks of all the disciples and those who witnessed the gift of the Holy Spirit was probably standing up for each of them.

Yet, our reading doesn’t end there.  Peter goes on to proclaim the Gospel to those who have witnessed these events and reminds them from the prophet Joel of the prophecy that “the decisive stage and climax of history has arrived with Christ and the Church” as the Lutheran Study Bible states.  These events are fulfillment of the prophecies of old and are a call from God for the disciples and by extension for us today. “We are to call upon the name of the Lord!”

The statement that Joel ends with “21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’” is the marching orders for the disciples and our marching orders as well.  When we hear that “We are to call upon the name of the Lord” this statement is not just an acclamation.  These words have deeper meaning for the disciples as well as for us today.

Joel’s words, are meant to be for all who believe Jesus is the Christ and have been given the Holy Spirit that this should be a ‘cry from the heart’.  Not just a rote or recitation, but a clear openness that with the gift of the Holy Spirit, which we have been given in through and by our Holy Baptism, we are to ‘cry from the heart’ the name of the Lord.  In doing this we break down the barriers of our ego, our society, our self and become selfless, knowing we cannot call upon the name of the Lord, except by the Holy Spirit. Paul fleshes this out for the New Testament further after his conversion and reiterates this in 1st Corinthians 12, where he says, “no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit”.  Therefore, Joel not only prophesied, but by Peter and Paul shows that unless we have the Holy Spirit, we are unable to fulfill that “We are to call upon the name of the Lord.”

In our having the Holy Spirit through our baptism into Jesus life, death and resurrection, by Water and Word, we can the fulfill Joel’s prophecy today as was repeated by Peter.  But there is more to our being able to fulfill that “We are to call upon the name of the Lord”.  By our calling upon the name of the Lord as a ‘cry from the heart’ it is in order to lament our ‘sin and imploring mercy’.  Last week Ezekiel in his prophecy said, ‘turn and live’ and Joel’s prophecy places the onus squarely upon us that we need to come and confess our sin, receive God’s forgiveness which is the vertical connection to God.  And on the horizontal, Joel is imploring us to confess our sin to one another and seek forgiveness and mercy from one another. This is the Christian way that God through the prophets and Peter and Paul is calling for us to fulfill today.  For in doing this, Satan’s hold on us will be broken and by the Holy Spirit in each of us, “We are to call upon the name of the Lord!”

Hence, why Pentecost for all of Christendom is the time to celebrate the giving of the Holy Spirit.  It is the battle cry not for our ability or inability to speak in tongues, see visions or signs of the times or it be claimed that we are ‘filled with new wine’.  We stand at a turning point in our faith walk where no longer are we or should we be standing on the side lines. We are called by the Holy Spirit inhabiting in each of us to be the people of God.  Be the church that is Christ centered, Mission Driven, Traditionally Grounded and Congregationally Focused, in our community so they hear us clearly saying, “We are to call upon the name of the Lord!”

In all of Holy Scripture, we have many people who lived lives of faith, yet one individual clearly showed and demonstrated his faith in God and His plan for His people.  This man was Gideon. We know the story of how though Gideon’s family was the poorest in all of Manasseh and Gideon was the least in his father’s house. God chose Gideon to lead the army of the Israelites against the Midianites.  And it wasn’t the ‘full strength of the army’, but only 300 warriors. What Gideon came to understand was that when they ‘called upon the name of the Lord’, the power and strength of God was not only behind them, but would and did give into the hands of Gideon the victory so God’s name would be glorified.

Today we the people of Emmanuel stand in uncertain times in and of ourselves in our world and in our community and church.  As our President Lou Hiener said and reminded us last week, in and of ourselves, we are lost, but with Christ our future is certain.  This is the same faith that Gideon had and which we have been given today as we celebrate Pentecost. We stand in perilous times, but we have the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the power of God when we confess and receive forgiveness from God and one another and the certainty of where our future will be in eternity.  This is why this text from Acts and the prophet Joel is so appropriate for us today. In humility let us ‘cry from the heart’ ‘lamenting our sin’, asking for ‘mercy’ and forgiveness so others will see the Holy Spirit in us, upon our heads with the disciples as modelled for us by Gideon so we hear and heed Joel’s prophecy that reminds us that “We are to call upon the name of the Lord”!  

Let us pray...Compassionate God open each and every one of our hearts to ‘cry to you’ and ‘lamenting our sin’ seeking Your divine mercy upon us and the forgiveness we so desperately need from one another.  So that just as the disciples spoke in tongues, we may speak words of encouragement and love to one another as a demonstration of our belief that “We are to call upon the name of the Lord!”  Help us to spread the message of salvation in our church, community and world as Your ambassadors and enable us to see in one another, Your Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ.  So that we like Gideon and Joel place our faith in You and proclaim the gift of salvation for all of mankind. We ask for Your will to be done and unite Your people here at Emmanuel and bind us together as the Body of Christ so our actions will first follow You and the Gospel will be on our lips as we fulfill that “We are to call upon the name of the Lord!”  AMEN!