Unfulfilled Promises in America

We cannot ignore injustice. We cannot turn away from racism as if it doesn’t exist. We cannot remain quiet as long as people are treated as less than other people because of the color of their skin. As Americans, we say in our pledge to the flag that we are a nation “with liberty and justice for all.” To indigenous people, to people of African descent …

Listen to the sermon ….

TEXT:  1 Corinthians 12:3-13
TITLE: “Promise Fulfilled”
THESIS: God keeps promises; so must we.

Introduction

  • Today is Pentecost Sunday – a day of celebration – a day to wear red as a sign of the Spirit who appeared as “tongues of fire” over the heads of the disciples – a day to remember the story of that day God’s promise to give the Spirit to all believers was fulfilled. – A promise fulfilled!
  • We make promises of many kinds in our lives – marriage vows, promises to always “be there” for a friend, promises parents make to their children, promises we make at baptism as Christians. … A favorite hymn says it: “O Jesus, I have promised, to serve thee to the end.” … When we make promises, we expect to keep them – and we expect others to keep their promises.
  • Let’s consider first this “promise of the Spirit.”

Scripture

  • John the Baptist said of Jesus that he would “baptize with the Spirit.” … Jesus said that “living waters would flow from” all who believe, meaning the gift of the Spirit to be with us. … On the night of Jesus’ resurrection, he said to his disciples: “Receive the Holy Spirit.” And he said, wait in Jerusalem “until you are clothed with power from on high.”And again, he said: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you” – power to change the world.
  • In our text today, the apostle Paul describes how God empowers us – through different kinds of gifts all given by the same Spirit. … In everyone it is the same God at work. …. Wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, prophetic words, discernment – all of these and more are gifts of the Spirit to empower us to do the work God sent us into the world to do – to bring reconciliation and peace through compassion and justice – to love the world as God loves the world. At the end of the chapter, he begins to speak of the one supreme gift – the gift of love.

Conclusion

  • The promise of God to give us the Spirit is fulfilled not so much when we receive the Spirit but when we allow the Spirit to empower us – to love, to seek justice, to show compassion and grace, to do all we can that all people might live a life of freedom and wholeness.
  • That brings me to what has happened this week. As Christians gifted and empowered by the Spirit to do God’s work in this world, we cannot ignore injustice. We cannot turn away from racism as if it doesn’t exist. We cannot remain quiet as long as people are treated as less than other people because of the color of their skin.
  • As Americans, we say in our pledge to the flag that we are a nation “with liberty and justice for all.” To indigenous people, to people of African descent, to people who are of a different ethnicity or language – that is not their experience. Our constitution promises “inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” … These “promises” have not been fulfilled for a great number of people.
  • As a nation, we must work to keep our promises to everyone among us. – God keeps promises; so must we.  As God’s people, followers of Jesus, we must be faithful to keep ours. God does not show favoritism. We are all one in the Spirit. More than that, we are all one as human beings, “made of one blood,” as the scripture says – and for all of us it is true that in God we live and move and have our being.
  • The gifts of God’s Spirit empower us in this world to show love and compassion, to seek justice and peace, to work for change and transformation. We are empowered to do God’s work of reconciliation, bringing people together rather than driving them apart. – To be an inclusive community of hope and love in the world around us.
  • As many people now say, it is not enough to not be racist; we must be anti-racist. In our words, our actions, our choices, our body language, our courage to speak out in the presence of racism of any kind – and to stand with people of color as their very lives continue to be threatened and taken from them.
  • God fulfilled the promise of the Spirit given to us to empower us. Now let us fulfill the promise of our nation to work for “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” – for “liberty and justice for all.” For these, too, are God’s promises. May the Spirit empower us in love and through the Spirit’s gifts to fulfill God’s promises for everyone.

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