Pentecost: Storytellers

Rev. Katherine G. Dougherty
Sermon Text: 

Pentecost Sunday with Baptism

John 15:26-27, 16:4b-15

May 20, 2018


Come Holy Spirit.  Fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in us the fire of your love

         Stories are an interesting creation in our world.  Whether we are talking about funny children’s stories or important historical events or (slowly) our own family memories, stories play an essential role in our human existence.  In the days to come and the years ahead people from all over will probably tell the story of Prince Harry and Meghan Markel’s wedding day.  Depending on their vantage point, their stories will differ.  If it’s Princess Charlotte, she may remember how excited she was and how she got to wave at everyone.  If it’s someone who stood outside the chapel, he might speak of all the people gathered and how the crowd cheered throughout the wedding.  If it’s an older couple, they may reflect on the pageantry and joy of the day and how it gave people a chance to celebrate life for a bit instead of worrying.  And if it’s Prince Harry, he may talk about watching his wonderful bride approach and how thankful he was that she wanted to spend their lives together. 

         In a few moments we are going to baptize our dear, little Miss Elizabeth.  Who knows what the story will be for her on this day, or for her family as they remember her baptism, or for us – the witnesses who will promise to love and support them…in her walk with God.  I know she will become a part of my story…as a priest.  We all have them.  We all have those stories we remember and tell throughout our lifetimes.  Some are serious – some casual and funny – some life changing – some heartbreaking and some that make our hearts swell with love and joy.  Stories ground us and remind us of this one precious life we are given.   

         Regardless of one’s nationality, culture or religion, we all share stories.  Story telling is one characteristic that binds us all…as humans.  We seem to crave sharing our experiences, relaying important information or lessons learned, and telling of our past. Pulling our history forward with us to the present meets some deep need within us all.  No matter who you are or where you live or what language you speak, stories have played a role in all of our lives.  It’s a human characteristic that connects us to one another.

         In the moment described – the story told to us today – from the Book of Acts…we find the disciples gathered in Jerusalem in the days after Jesus ascended to heaven.  Before Jesus had gone, he spoke to the disciples about being his witnesses to all of Jerusalem, Judea and beyond.  Did you hear

that (?)…let me say it again…they were to be witnesses…to be storytellers to the world.  They were to share with the entire world who this man, Jesus, was and what he had done for others.  They were to share the stories he had told – to teach like he had taught. They were to share the stories of love and acceptance – of how he sat with lepers and ate with tax collectors.  They were to share the stories of love and healing – of how Jesus healed the sick and gave sight to the blind. And they were to share the stories of love and forgiveness – of how he voluntarily gave his life for us and forgave us all of our sins, so that we…each…could have eternal life with God.  They were to be storytellers of the most important story of all time! 

         But if you remember, these were simple folks – they were not world travelers who knew a variety of languages.  Surprisingly, that didn’t matter though – for with a powerful rush of wind, God filled them with the Holy Spirit and bestowed upon them the ability to speak in ALL languages. 

         But God is so good though…because this did not happen in some place hidden from the world, but it happened in the midst of a festival.

The Feast of Weeks – a festival where hundreds of people from all over the world had gathered to offer up their grain…their harvest…to the Lord - was happening too in this moment.  In the midst of this gathering – the people witnessed the power of God and heard in their own languages the story and message of Jesus Christ! 

         They saw…they heard…and without a doubt they took those stories back to their part of the world.  Language was no barrier for the Holy Spirit and the stories of Jesus Christ and more importantly the message of love spread far and wide.  Not only were the disciples messengers, but all who witnessed this day became storytellers for God.

         We too can be storytellers for God.  We can share God’s love and commitment to us by sharing it with others.  No, we don’t have to stand on the street corner and shout to the treetops about the saving grace of God (unless you want to), but we can live it out in our lives.  We too…can share the story of Jesus’ time on Earth by being welcoming to everyone and forgiving those who hurt us or frustrate us. We too…can tell the story of God’s grace by being respectful of our differences as a people from many cultures and not see others as a threat or an inconvenience.  We too…can tell the story of God’s love by being kind to everyone and generous even when we have little to give.  And on those days, when we don’t think we are capable of doing a particular task or we are tired and struggle to go on…we too can ask God to help us and pray for the Holy Spirit to walk with us and guide us, just as it was done for the disciples.

         Humanity will always be connected by our need to tell one another our stories.  They make us who we are.  And what better a story to tell others than one of acceptance, grace, forgiveness, and love!  May we all be God’s storytellers!!








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