Breathe on me breath of God

Acts 2.1-21.  John 15.26-27 &16.4b-15

(A sermon preached by David Mann on 27 May 2012)

On this Pentecost Sunday I want to elaborate on something I wrote in this month’s Community Magazine when I said, ‘Someone has described the lack of spiritual power as being because many people are living on the right side of Easter but on the wrong side of Pentecost.’  I don’t want that to pass by as just an article I wrote for this season because I truly believe it has enormous implications for us as Christians.

The disciples had experienced the reality of Jesus’ resurrection, and greeted it with unbounded joy, but something was missing.  They were powerless to tell others about it, and indeed they were still frightened people.  They had Jesus’ great commission to go into the world and make all nations his disciples, but they were powerless, unsure, and probably content to stay in their own little community where they felt secure.  I make no apology for saying this but frankly I believe that the church of today is in a very similar situation.

We too believe that Jesus is alive and no doubt many churches had larger congregations than normal on Easter Day to celebrate the fact.  We too have the same great commission to go into the world and make disciples, but largely we concentrate our efforts not on going out into the world, but on hoping that the world will come into us.  In that respect we are no different to that little group of frightened disciples who liked their own company.  Fortunately for them, and for us – because without their successors who came to Cornwall we wouldn’t be here today – their lives changed when, at Pentecost, Jesus’ promised gift of the Holy Spirit came flooding into their lives, and nothing would ever be the same again.  You see it took more than the resurrection of Jesus to make a difference – it needed the power of the Holy Spirit or, as I said in my article, the power of the spirit of Jesus if you are more comfortable with that understanding.

I know it is an old illustration but I can’t think of anything better than using an electric light.  If I switch this lamp off there’s no light.  The power is there and it is available for use.  All that is needed is for me to make the connection by pressing the switch.  I have no idea how it works – you’ll have to ask an electrician about that.  All I need to know is where the switch is then press it to get the light I need.

Now do you get my point?  We live the right side of Easter & we know where the power is, but we live the wrong side of Pentecost because we don’t press the switch that connects us to the power of the Holy Spirit.

We don’t need to know how it works just how to make the connection.  If we did we would get the results that we all so desperately want to see – a vibrant, living faith for each of us, and a vibrant, living Church.

People often use the expression of being ‘switched on’, or ‘turned on’.  Many of you will know that one of the things that turn me is watching birds and the Choughs in particular.  Every Wednesday I am at The Lizard showing people the Choughs and talking about them.  I get enormous pleasure from seeing the birds but especially the pleasure on peoples’ faces when they see them.  But even moreso I want to have the pleasure is seeing the delight on peoples’ faces when they get to know Jesus.

I deliberately asked to have the hymn we sang earlier. ‘Breathe on me breath of God’, because its simple yet moving words perfectly encompass all that I want you to go away with today.  Read them, pray them and if you take them to heart they will make a huge difference to your life and indeed to the whole life of this church and its witness.

Breathe on me, Breath of God,

Fill me with life anew,

That I may love what Thou dost love,

And do what Thou wouldst do.

Breathe on me, Breath of God,

Until my heart is pure,

Until with Thee I will one will,

To do and to endure.

Breathe on me, Breath of God,

Till I am wholly Thine,

Till all this earthly part of me

Glows with Thy fire divine.

Breathe on me, Breath of God,

So shall I never die,

But live with Thee the perfect life

Of Thine eternity.