Sunday, 31 May 2009


Service at Cheddington Methodist Chapel

John 15.26,27 16. 4b – 15

The Work of the Holy Spirit

26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. 27 And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.

1 All this I have told you so that you will not fall away. 2 They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the hour is coming when those who kill you will think they are offering a service to God. 3 They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. 4 I have told you this, so that when their hour comes you will remember that I warned you about them. I did not tell you this from the beginning because I was with you, 5 but now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me, 'Where are you going?' 6 Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things. 7 But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 about sin, because people do not believe in me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.

12 "I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”

Writing sermon – whilst mowing vicarage lawn.

How many strips before emptying box?

Front - mostly moss. How to kill?

Parable of wheat and tares
Matt 13:
“The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.
27 The owner's servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’”

Lawns look better after being mown

Made up of various plants – from distance looks like grass

Still known as a lawn – still called grass – even though made up of lots of different plants

Lawns – bit like fruits of the Spirit – long list, but essentially the same thing. Love.

Today is Pentecost

Greek means 50 – 50th day after Easter

Whitsun – ‘White Sunday’ after white dresses worn to church by women

Jesus had made certain promises to disciples:

You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you

You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem

In all Judea and Samaria

And to the ends of the earth

At Pentecost – these promises were fulfilled:

Power of HS comes as violent wind and divided tongues of fire

Peter and others speak to crowds – witnesses in Jerusalem

Persecution in Jerusalem forces early Christians out into Judea and Samaria

Ends of the earth – Ethiopia, Cornelius (first Gentile convert), Paul around the Empire and to Rome itself

Peter’s speech at Pentecost addressed to ‘Men of Judea.’

Not to Gentiles

Quotes prophecy of Joel “I will pour out my spirit on ALL flesh”

But Peter restricts message to “You that are Israelites…”

Later, when HS possesses Gentiles too, the apostles realise the gift not for the Jews alone

Crowd were the same people who had bayed for blood before Pilate, by calling for Jesus to be executed in place of the condemned criminal Barabbas.

So they were cut to the quick when they saw prophecy fulfilled in dramatic fashion

“Brothers, what should we do?” they ask.

“Repent and be baptized, so that your sins may be forgiven” is Peter’s response.

Awe came upon them, when they saw the many signs and wonders being done by the apostles.

Gifts of the Spirit

No one seemed to be quite sure what would happen after the promise of the gift of the HS was fulfilled

Saw physical signs – but what did they mean?

I Corinthians written by Paul to church in Corinth – 20 years later

Chapter 12: Gifts of the Spirit

To each person – different gifts




Gift of healing

Working of miracles


Discernment of spirits

Various kinds of tongues


Different gifts, but same Spirit

Like one body with many members

We are all baptized into Jesus Christ

Foot cannot decide to cease being a foot and act like a hand

Whole body cannot be an eye

Nor can any member cease to be part of the body if it chooses

Fruit of the Spirit

Paul exhorts us to live by the Spirit in letter to Galatians.

Fruit not fruits – one fruit with 9 flavours

How do we recognise the activity of the Holy Spirit?

Galatians 5 lists fruits of the Spirit









Self control

Like the vicarage lawn that is called grass but is made up of a long list of other things, so this list of the fruit of the Spirit is summed up in one – Love. All these other fruits stem from Love.

Love brings with it patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, joy and self-control.

So let’s look at Love as it applies to the Christian faith

Who should we love?



Our neighbours

37 Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matt 22

Sisters and Brothers in Christ

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13

Our enemies

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” Matt 5

How should we love?

Love has no agenda

It is unconditional

How does Love work out in our everyday lives?

Consider the checklist in I Corinthians – Love:

Is patient Never gives up

Is kind Cares more for others than self

Does not envy Does not want what it doesn’t have

Does not boast Does not strut

Is not proud Does not have a swelled head

Is not rude Does not force itself on others

Is not self-seeking Is not me-first

Is not easily angered Does not fly off the handle

Keeps no record of wrongs Does not keep score

Does not delight in evil Does not revel when others grovel

Rejoices with the truth takes pleasure in the flowering of truth

Always protects Puts up with everything

Always trusts Trusts God in everything

Always hopes Looks for the best in everything

Always perseveres Keeps going to the end, never looks back

Never fails Love never dies

To which we can add a few:

Love always grows It is always getting better

Love does not differentiate It always sees the face of Jesus in others

Love always works It cannot be held in check

Love is positive It is always active. It can never do nothing

Love has time for others It can never be too busy

Love endures It bears trials calmly

Love is a matter of the head Not just of the heart

Love is at peace Peace with God and with each other

In the fruit of the Spirit are seeds

The fruit is not an end in itself. It exists to propagate

The fruit of the Spirit, in all its flavours, will seed itself and reproduce

It will grow and flourish

It does need to be taken out and planted

It will not thrive if kept in the dark

Like the Spirit of Pentecost, it should break out and be obvious to others


Is the fruit of the Spirit growing in my life?

Am I rooted in God’s word?

How are my relationships – is there pruning going on?

Am I in step with the working of the Holy Spirit – or trying to go at my own pace?

Am I aiming for the highest standard, or will less than the best do?

46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matt 5

And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. All who obey his commandments abide in him, and he abides in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit that he has given us. Rom 8

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your people
and kindle in us the fire of your love.
All who are led by the Spirit of God
are children of God and fellow-heirs with Christ.
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your people.
Renew the face of your creation, Lord,
pouring on us the gifts of your Spirit,
and kindle in us the fire of your love.
For the creation waits with eager longing
for the glorious liberty of the children of God.
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your people
and kindle in us the fire of your love.

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