Series: Pentecost 2021
Title: Anointed with the Holy Spirit
Date: Pentecost Sunday 30th May, 2021.
Preacher: Rev Phil Swain
Bible Reading: Acts 2:1-17
In the lead up to Pentecost we have been looking at the core values of the church which shape our decision and drive us as a community. Last week I preached on having a heart for mission and the idea of a calling – that Jesus invites us to continue his work in the world and promises us the Holy Spirit to help us. Today these ideas crash together in the Pentecost story. Pentecost is the day when the church received the Holy Spirit and took a huge step in continuing the mission and ministry of Jesus.
Last week I was going to show you a nerdy science video but ran out of time, so I am going to start the sermon this week with it. I will show the video and then explain its connection with Pentecost, God’s mission and the Holy Spirit.
Video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y97rBdSYbkg
Pretty tricky, eh? Two points that I get out of the video…
- It only took that tiny ½ cm high domino to knock over the 1m high domino. Sometimes I think that when we consider the mission of God, attempting to right the wrong things in this world, we think we are too small and insignificant. But this video shows that it doesn’t matter if you are small … small things in the right place at the right time can make a huge impact.
- But the physics are also interesting. That nerdy science man taught us that the way the smaller domino has the ability to push over the larger domino is the stored energy or potential within the domino which is stood up. Even though the domino is doing nothing, it has the potential within it to do something amazing.
I think that potential energy is a bit like the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised us a helper and God has placed within us this potential, this stored up power which we call the Holy Spirit. They key for us is working out how to unlock that potential power of the Holy Spirit. An open mind? A willing heart? The encouragement of the domino before us? That is what we are exploring today – but the domino video is proof that if we are able to tap into the potential power of the Holy Spirit within us, then our work on God’s mission can build and build into something huge.
Today I want to explore a word which I think encapsulates the ideas – the idea of the call to God’s mission and the idea of the Holy Spirit helping us. Today I want to explore the word “anoint” or the idea that we are anointed. In the Bible this word “Anoint” is used in two different ways.
The first is a doing word – to pour oil or ointment or perfume over a person or thing to signify that they are special, different, consecrated or set apart from the ordinary or set apart for holy work. So, in the Bible we hear stories of kings or prophets or priest or even craftspeople or heroes being anointed with oil.
But the Bible also links the word anointed with the concept of being “called by God”. When a person is anointed, it is God who is calling them into holy work, that God is placing a hand on them, that God is setting them apart.
By the time we get to the new Testament, this idea of anointing is reflected in Jesus himself. But Jesus goes a step further and links anointing with the Spirit.
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”
Do you see the link? Jesus is saying that the Holy Spirit has come to him and the Holy Spirit has set him apart, has called him, has anointed him to proclaim good news, freedom etc. Instead of pouring oil or perfume over Jesus, God has anointed Jesus by pouring out on him THE HOLY SPIRIT and setting Jesus apart for the holy work of God’s mission.
But Pentecost changed everything. Up to Pentecost, this anointing, this pouring out of the spirit to empower a person for Holy work, was only given to a few select people – the kings, queens, priests, prophets etc. They were the ones set apart, and they were the ones anointed with the spirit.
However, with Jesus this all changed. Jesus in John 14:15-16
Jesus said to his disciples: If you love me, you will do as I command. Then I will ask the Father to send YOU the Holy Spirit who will help YOU and always be with YOU.
In our bible reading we had today we heard Joel’s prophesy
‘In the last days,’ God says,
‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
Your young men will see visions,
and your old men will dream dreams.
I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.
I will anoint all people.
I will set apart, I will call all people.
Are you hearing this? This is what came true at Pentecost. Instead of the spirit of God calling and dwelling just with priests and prophets etc … the spirit of God now calls and dwells in us all.
And it does change everything.
Who is called by God for mission? We all are!
Who has God set apart for holy work? All of us! (different types of holy work, but we all are set apart)
Who has God placed a hand upon and anointed us with the Holy Spirit? You – yes, you.
We all have been anointed with the Spirit and it is like the potential stored up energy within us. We are like that tiny domino who through the spirits power can cause a chain reaction and cause a huge domino to fall down. It only takes an listening ear to hear God’s call and an open and willing heart for the Holy Spirit to be unleashed and make a huge difference in our life and in the world.
If you are unsure of what the call of God means in your life, then please, grab a cuppa with me, I’d love to chat about it with you.
But to finish with, I want to affirm that with the Spirits anointing we can make a difference. I want to you another video which also reflects on this. It is about the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park goes for about 4 minutes.
Quite amazing, isn’t it. What I love about that video is that the wolves were not doing anything spectacular, they were just doing what they were supposed to do, they were just being wolves. Likewise, if we just do what God is calling us to do, if we just live as follower of Jesus, we too will influence what is happening around us, and change the way the world works, and maybe even do something extraordinary like changing rivers!
Pentecost reminds us that we are all called by God. We are set apart to serve in mission and service for God’s purposes. This is affirmed by the anointing the Holy Spirit.