The text of the sermon, based on John 14.8-17, 25-27, preached with the people of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, Spartanburg, SC, on the Day of Pentecost, June 5, 2022.

Pentecost. The word means “fiftieth.” The Day of Pentecost, in our Christian calendar, the fiftieth day after Easter Day, is the annual occasion of celebration of the fulfillment of Jesus’ resurrection-promise to be with his followers, truly, within them as a spiritual presence; an essence as close as breath.[1]

Our gospel passage takes us back to the night before Jesus’ crucifixion and death. He gathers with his disciples for a last supper and final words of teaching; especially a new commandment to love as he has loved. Then, gazing into his friends’ sorrowed faces, etched with grief, Jesus breathes this word of consolation: “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me…If you know me, then you know my Father…(Truly) you have seen him.”[2]

Philip hears, yet, not fully understanding, perhaps fears he has misunderstood. “Lord,” he pleads, “show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” The Greek verb translated “to be satisfied” also can be rendered “to be enough.” Adequate. Sufficient. Needing nothing more.

On one occasion during Jesus’ ministry, a large crowd followed him. Jesus, knowing that he would feed them, first, asked Philip, as a test-of-faith, where to buy bread. Philip, anxious, answered that a half-year’s wages wouldn’t be enough to buy enough bread.[3] Now, on this night before Jesus’ death, Philip again is concerned about how to satisfy hunger. This time, not physically, but spiritually.

Philip’s passionate plea, “Jesus, show us God!”, gives voice to the spiritual hunger of all humanity, for all time. A hunger expressed in countless ways…

In this world into which we are born, with fixed beginnings and certain ends, show us why we were born!

In this world of confusion, with competing, often conflicting claims of truth, show us what and who is real and reliable!

In this world filled with illusion and self-delusion, show us how to distinguish sense from nonsense; that of others and our own!

In this world where we sometimes feel alone, show us that we’re connected to the cosmos; truly, all of life!

In this world of deadly, indiscriminate danger, show us where to find truest security for the safety of our souls!

Philip articulates our spiritual hunger and hope: Jesus, show us! For whatever you show us will be enough!

Jesus answers Philip and us: “Have I been with you all this time and you still don’t understand? I, in my words and works, have shown you God. And you will do more than I have done.”[4]

The life of Jesus is one big show and tell. What he shows and tells us is this. What we seek, we already possess. What we desire to become, we already are. We already are like Jesus! Spirit – the animating breath, the creative power of the universe – incarnate in human flesh; our flesh!

And if we believe that, then that is enough.

Enough to know that to be born is to question why…

Enough to struggle to discern what and who is true and real; and when we are true and real…

Enough to know that by virtue of our creation we are connected to all of life…

Enough to have faith in power greater than we and, thus, to name and to know our truest security.

We, the church, as an inheritance of our religious forebears, in other words, our tradition, tend to speak of God’s Spirit as external to us; thus, needing to be imparted to us or conferred upon us. In our Collect, we pray that God “(send)…the light of your Holy Spirit.”[5] In our Eucharistic Prayer, we say that “the Holy Spirit came down from heaven.”[6]

Nevertheless, as God creates by the breath of eternal Spirit, anything that has life always has the Spirit. This, I believe, is what Jesus, through his life, his words and works, always yearns to show and tell us. Again, what we seek, we already are. We already are like Jesus: Spirit incarnate in human flesh. If we believe that, then it is enough…

Enough to do greater things than Jesus has done. Enough to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, and clothe the naked.[7] Enough to preach, teach, heal, and make disciples.[8]


[1] The Hebrew (ruach) and Greek (pneuma) words for “spirit” literally mean “breath.”

[2] John 14.1, 7 (my paraphrase)

[3] See John 6.1-7.

[4] John 14.9-12, paraphrased.

[5] The Book of Common Prayer, page 227 (emphasis added). Full text of the Collect (my emphasis): O God, who on this day taught the hearts of your faithful people by sending to them the light of your Holy Spirit: Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

[6] Ibid, page 380 (emphasis added). Full text of the Proper Preface for Pentecost (my emphases): Through Jesus Christ our Lord. In fulfillment of his true promise, the Holy Spirit came down on this day from heaven, lighting upon the disciples, to teach them and to lead them into all truth; uniting peoples of many tongues in the confession of one faith, and giving to your Church the power to serve you as a royal priesthood, and to preach the Gospel to all nations.

[7] These examples of the “work” to which we are called are based on Matthew 25.35-36.

[8] From St. Matthew’s Prayer for Spiritual Growth. Full text: Gracious Father, we ask spiritual growth for ourselves, our families and friends, and especially for our family St. Matthew’s. Grant us growth in understanding and willingness to be your Body in this world. Empower us to live the mission of Christ: to preach, teach, heal, and make disciples. In joyful thanksgiving for the blessing of your presence in our lives, compel us to share you with everyone we meet. May our numbers increase, our commitment deepen, our lives be joyfully yours. Make us a God-centered people. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen.

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