In this morning’s Gospel, we hear Jesus talking to his disciples about when he leaves them. That he is going away and that it’s good for them and that he will not leave them alone, that he will give them an Advocate.
So, today is Pentecost
The “Birthday” of the Church
The Colors of the Church are Red – representing fire – the fire of the Holy Spirit.
It is celebrated each year, 50 days after Easter
It commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples
It is also called “Whitsunday”, which in earlier years, the church baptized its members who wore all white, indicating purity, new birth.
This Pentecost celebration also is related to the Jewish harvest festival of SHAVOUT – which was a celebration of GOD giving Moses the 10 commandments, that’s why the disciples were all together in Jerusalem.
What is an Advocate?
Merriam Webster says,
1 : one who pleads the cause of another before a tribunal or judicial court
2: one who defends or maintains a cause
3: one who supports or promotes the interests of a cause or group
So what does the Bible say about the Holy Spirit?
In Romans 8:26 it says
“Likewise, the spirit helps us in our weakness: for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the spirit, because the spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God”.
So, said another way the Holy Spirit is our Advocate, our Helper, our comforter, our Counselor.
You may have heard the terms in various scripture readings and various expressions.
These different words for the Holy Spirit are basically one and the same. They derive from the Greek word “‘Paraclete,” which is another name for the Holy Spirit, meaning ‘comforter’ or ‘counselor,” “advocate”–these are all ways the Greek word “Paraclete” can be translated. Today the word we hear is Advocate.
That’s what this day, the Day of Pentecost, is about: It’s about the risen and ascended Lord Jesus Christ sending the Paraclete, the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, to the church, to help we the church, in several ways.
How is the Holy Spirit our Advocate?
Our reading tells us there are three ways.
So first, the Holy Spirit will go alongside us. In this morning’s Gospel reading, Jesus tells his disciples that he is going to send them the Holy Spirit very soon.
This causes the disciples some distress, hearing that their Master is about to leave them. But Jesus reassures them that it is actually for their good, that he is going away, and he says he will not leave them comfortless. And a big part of that reassurance and comfort is that he will send them the Holy Spirit, who will be with them and go alongside them.
This begins back in chapter 14, where Jesus tells them: “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth.” And this is the first place where we find the term “Paraclete” to refer to the Holy Spirit.
It’s translated here as “Helper,” but it could also be translated as “Comforter,” “Counselor,” or “Advocate.” And this word “paraclete” in the Greek means “someone who is called alongside of you.” The idea is like you call over to someone and say, “Hey, could you come over here and give me a little help?” And then that person comes alongside you and goes with you to be your helper. That is what a “paraclete” was in the ancient world. And this is what Jesus says the Holy Spirit will be for the disciples–and, by extension, for us. He will be our Paraclete, our Helper.
So, it was for the disciples. And so, it will be for us. The Holy Spirit is with us. The Holy Spirit will go with us, throughout our lives, to keep us in the Christian faith, to guard and guide us, to sanctify us and help us grow as Christians.
The Holy Spirit, whom Christ poured out on the church on the Day of Pentecost–
Secondly, the Holy Spirit will glorify Jesus.
He said, “He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” Or again, “He will bear witness about me.” See, that’s the Holy Spirit’s job, if you will, to shine the light on Jesus, to glorify Christ.
You know, sometimes we might wonder why scripture doesn’t say too much about the Holy Spirit, and it is hard for us to get our minds around ‘the Holy Spirit”, as certainly we don’t read or hear nearly as much as we read about Jesus. Jesus is the focus, the Holy Spirit is the helper, the Advocate, the Councilor.
It’s like your car is out somewhere in a big parking lot at the mall. But it’s night, it’s dark out, and you don’t know where to find it. So, somebody comes near you, with a flashlight, and leads you to your car, shining the light on it, not on himself. So, you see the car, but you don’t notice the person holding the flashlight, even though you couldn’t have found the car without the person holding the flashlight.
That’s kind of how the Holy Spirit works. We don’t notice him much, but all the while he’s pointing the flashlight at Jesus, so we can clearly see our Savior.
And by the way, each week here in church we say,
In the words of the Nicene creed:
“ He came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit”.
Then we go on to say, “ we believe in the Holy Spirit”.
And that’s where the Holy Spirit comes in. It’s the glue that connects us.
The Holy Spirit works though the means of grace, the preaching and teaching of the gospel and the administration of the sacraments, in order to bring us to faith in Christ and to keep us strong in that faith till the day we die.
Remember the flashlight -
Which leads us to our third point: The Holy Spirit will guide us into all the truth. Again, that’s what Jesus told the disciples: “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.”
When you listen for God – truly listen, you will hear the words of God, because that’s what the Holy Spirit speaks
The Spirit of truth will guide you into all the truth.
We live in a world today where nobody seems to be sure that there is such a thing as truth. Truth, we’re told, is whatever happens to be true for you. That’s your truth, and that’s just fine. Truth becomes relative. But that is all so subjective and shaky and uncertain. The actual truth is, there is such a thing as objective truth. Absolute truth. Truth is whatever God says in his Word.
That’s what we can be sure of. That’s what is certain and firm and we can build our lives on, namely, God’s Holy Word.
So, a sidebar here: If you want the real truth, listen for the voice of God, sit in silence, meditate and think on God, read scripture.
That’s the truth, we as disciples of Jesus need to hear. We don’t necessarily need to tune into Fox, CNN, or Facebook or other media outlets.
So, if you want to know how things really stand between God and man; if you want to know what is right and wrong in this world from God’s perspective, which is the only one that counts; if you want to know the things that are to come, where this world is headed–then the one place to find that out is in God’s Word and amoungst God’s people
And the Advocate, the Helper, the councilor the Holy Spirit, will guide you into that truth. He will open the Scriptures for you. As you grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, as you continue to come to church and Bible study, morning prayer, healing services, and grow in your understanding of God’s Word, it will be the Holy Spirit, who will be guiding you into all the truth.
So today, on this great festival day, the Day of Pentecost, we celebrate and rejoice in the fact that Christ has given us the gift of the Holy Spirit. He is our Helper, our advocate, our councilor. And today we’ve looked at how he helps us in these three ways:
The Holy Spirit will go alongside us.
He will glorify Jesus.
And he will guide us into all the truth.
This Holy Spirit that no matter who tries to explain it to me, I can’t get my human mind around – I can get my mind around the fact that GOD can do anything or be anything.
So, I go on FAITH – believing in something I cannot see – because I can see the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Rev. Dr. Harvey Hill
Third Order Franciscan