Mount Olive Lutheran Church
Home About Worship Music and Arts Parish Life Learning Outreach News Contact
Mount Olive Lutheran Church

Sunday, June 4, 2017


You are, we all are, the dwelling place of the Holy and Triune God: we are precious, beloved Temples of God, moving in the world and bearing witness to God’s love for all creation.

Pr. Joseph G. Crippen
   The Day of Pentecost, year A
   Texts: 1 Corinthians 12:3b-13 (also quoting 1 Cor. 3:16); John 7:37-39; Acts 2:1-21

Sisters and brothers in Christ, grace to you, and peace in the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen

“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (1 Cor. 3:16)

Five hundred years before Jesus’ birth, the second Temple was built by returning exiles, replacing the one Babylon destroyed. It was magnificent. But missing from the Holy of Holies in that second Temple was the Ark of the Covenant, with the tablets of stone inside, Aaron’s rod, the pot of manna, and other things lost when the first Temple was destroyed.

In the Talmud the rabbis say the second Temple also lacked the Shekinah, the dwelling, settling, divine presence of God, the holy Spirit of God, as the Hebrew Scriptures named it, which lived in the first Temple, in the Holy of Holies.

So after exile, God’s people still waited for God to fulfill the promise to return and dwell with them once more.

These words of Paul from earlier in his first Corinthian letter, then, are stunning. “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” he says. Paul looks at Pentecost and sees the in-dwelling Spirit of God poured out into each person. Paul looks at Pentecost and says, “God has come to live with us again.”

Not in a Holy of Holies. In God’s people.

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 

The idea of God’s Spirit inspiring people wasn’t a new thing. Throughout the Hebrew Scriptures the holy Spirit of the true God moves, pours into prophets and lawgivers, blesses and guides women and men. But the dwelling of God, the place where the Spirit of the one, true God lived, was the Temple.

Paul names Pentecost as the same movement of God’s Spirit as into the Holy of Holies in the first Temple, taking Pentecost further than any could have expected. Now we are the dwelling places of God’s Spirit, God’s temples moving in the world, bearing God’s Holy Spirit into every corner of the creation.

When we lay hands at baptism and ask God’s Spirit to dwell in that person, we are asking God to create another Temple. When we lay hands at confirmation and ask God’s Spirit to stir up in that person, we are asking God to move in that Temple and be known, make a difference. When we say, “Come, Holy Spirit,” we are naming that we are God’s dwelling.

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 

How can we know this is true? How can we be sure? Paul helps with this.

First, look at your faith. Paul says today, “no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit.” So, do you trust in the God who came to this world in Christ and gives you life and love and salvation? Any faith in Christ, Paul says, even the smallest amount, tells you the Spirit is in you.

Likewise, the Spirit creates fruits in us, Paul says, visible things. Jesus said the Spirit was like the wind: you can’t see wind, but you can see where it’s blowing by what’s moving. So, too, we see the Spirit by the fruits that result. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Do you have any of these, in any measure? They, too, show the Spirit is in you.

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 

What if you believed this? If you woke and slept, worked and played, lived and spoke and loved and dreamed as one who carried the Holy Spirit of God? Doesn’t this change everything you thought about yourself?

For one, you are not your own anymore. As God’s dwelling place, you are a holy place, but you do not own yourself. All the things you thought you had, you don’t. Wealth, possessions, time, energy, they aren’t yours to grasp. But what would it be like if you really lived free from self-ownership, free to be God’s home of grace?

And then there’s this: this means you are beloved beyond expectation, a precious dwelling place of the Triune God, a holy of holies. You are. In you God lives and moves and has being.

What if you believed you were that valuable? Worthy to be God’s cherished home in this world? What would your life look like?

But go further. It’s not just you, alone. “You all are,” is what Paul says.

You are God’s precious dwelling place. And so am I. And so are we all. So what would our lives be like if we looked at each other and rejoiced in God’s Spirit we saw there?

Consider this: we love this building. In here we are fed by God’s grace, filled with God’s Spirit. From here we are sent to bear God’s love in the world. This holy house of God is dear to us and precious because we meet God here. We’re doing a capital appeal right now to care for this gift others gave us, that it might be a blessing to those who follow us.

What does it mean, then, that each of us, each of God’s children, is truly the Temple of God? What if we looked at all of God’s children and loved them as we love this place, seeing them as the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit, the place where we go to meet God?

How could we ever let another human being be hurt, these temples where God lives and moves and has being? This changes everything, that as we pray to see the Spirit in our world, God turns our eyes to each other, to people all over the world, and says, “See. I am making all things new. See, my dwelling place.”

What if we took Pentecost seriously in how we live with others, look at others?

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?

Today Paul fleshes out this indwelling. Each of us, he says, is given different manifestations of the Spirit for the common good. So every temple is different. Every dwelling of the Spirit has a purpose, specific gifts. Each of God’s beloved, each of you, has a place, everyone fits.

Your gifts are yet another sign of the Spirit’s presence in you. The gifted love that looks different from person to person bears the image of the same Spirit. The world is diverse beyond belief, because God needs all sorts of dwelling places, all sorts of gifts to benefit the common good.

Because that’s God’s dream. That we are each the dwelling of God for the common good, for the life of the world, for the healing of the nations. We are portable temples of God, moving in the world, bearing God’s presence, to all who need God’s love, healing, hope. To all who do not yet know that they, too, are the home of the Spirit of the Living God.

Now we see how God’s salvation will embrace the whole world.

Now we know what Pentecost really started.

Now we realize the world will never be the same.

In the name of Jesus.  Amen

No comments:

Post a Comment


Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Reconciling in ChristRIC

Copyright 2014 Mount Olive Lutheran Church