Sunday, June 4

The Varieties of Prophesy by the Same Spirit

Jubi and I proclaim, each time we meet, the Gospel. We prophesy. We, hopefully, speak God’s word addressed to you who are a gathering of God’s people. The passages we read today on Pentecost, though say that it isn’t only certain people with certain roles and who are ordained that can or should prophesy- speak the word of God to others, share the Gospel.  This has been something of what our Easter series has been seeking to explore: How might we all access and be freed up to prophesy, to speak by the power of the Spirit, to share with those around us and with each other the living water of our life with God.

Jesus in our short Gospel passage says .we both drink of Christ and we become streams of living water, from which others will drink. That water from which we drink and which pours out from us the  Spirit of God.

A few things about this proclamation of the Gospel and prophesying: It isn’t necessarily something thought out. To prophesy by the Spirit isn’t a choice. One doesn’t choose to be empowered by the Spirit. The Spirit comes upon us, and flows through us and from us.  We are conduits. We make ourselves available like those who gathered in Jerusalem in the upper room, waiting. At the same time, there are times when this proclamation and speaking with the Spirit, prophesying, is thought out and choice. There are moments, like Jubi’s and my sermon in which we not only wait, but in waiting actively participate with the Spirit in prophesying, speaking the word of God to a specific group of people.

We see both kinds of proclamation in the story of that first Day of Pentecost when the Spirit descended and a band of followers of Jesus Christ were transformed into the Church, Christ’s body. The Spirit descends with a sound of rushing wind and the sign of tongues of fire and without willing it the gathered disciples male and female along with the apostles begin to speak in languages unknown to them and proclaim God’s word and the Gospel of God’s great works in Jesus Christ.  

Those who spoke in tongues and were heard by those of various native languages from all over the globe, spoke by inspiration and not choice, the words flowed from them in a way that they couldn’t choose or plan. But Peter stands up and speaks by the same inspiration of the Spirit in a language, he knows and while extemporaneous, he chooses his words, and we can say from the evidence of Luke’s account he chose them carefully, in a well thought out manner, with a chosen line of argument and chosen supporting evidence of that argument.  Both are under the direction and inspiration of the Spirit one with less agency the other with more, but all prophesy by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Peter’s proclamation and prophesy is more akin to what Jubi and I do each Sunday we gather, and in fact our ordination puts us in a line of decent from St Peter and the Apostles, those chosen to stand as official representatives of the Gospel and the visible Church. It is one of the great tragedies that has repeated itself in the church that the Spirit filled proclamation of St Peter and the Apostles has been pitted against the prophesy of the gathered people of God, the disciples who speak in various and sundry tongues by the inspiration of that same Spirit.

Jubi and my prophesying as Peter can’t and shouldn’t stand apart from the speaking in tongues of the gathered people of God, who speak prophesy empowered and inspired by the same Spirit. But the lay proclamation of the disciples the gathered people of God, needs the proclamation of St. Peter. And St Peter’s proclamation is without effect without the proclamation of the gathered disciples. They aren’t in competition, one shouldn’t and doesn’t diminish the other each is supported and supportive of the other. They both are expressions of the same Spirit. So, Moses’ authority and Spirit empowerment wasn’t diminished or threatened by other’s who received the same Spirit as God distributed the Spirit as God chose.

What I hope, is that what Jubi and I proclaim and prophesy when we gather may awaken in each of us the same Spirit so that each of us is opened to the Spirit that each of you may proclaim in our contexts in languages we may not all understand, not only here in this worship service but more importantly outside this upper room, among the crowds.

So, this act of proclamation that Jubi and I do each week, is also what is to flow from your own mouths by the power and inspiration of the Spirit. It is both the water you drink and the water you are to allow to flow form you so those around you may drink. This is our life together. This is our prophesy. That we all may be like streams of water quenching the thirst of those around us. Don’t think it enough that Jubi and I prophesy to you, in fact our speaking by the Spirit needs your own speaking by the power of the Spirit.  It begins in our times of discussion, but is to overflow this time and space flow out into the crowds of the world. And don’t worry if you think you don’t’ know enough or don’t know what to say, you have the Spirit in you, it will give you the words, even the language to say what you are called to proclaim.  You are among the Disciples, you have different call from those of us who are among the apostles. So, don’t worry, but be open to the gifting and guidance of the Spirit. Let the spirit flow through you. Trust the Spirit of God in you. Amen