Please find here the text of Peter’s post-Pentecost sermon, a.k.a. The Sermon. One of the best things about The Sermon is that it is a response to mockers; to those who in another age would be known as player haters.
The mockers say “These men are full of new wine.” Peter doesn’t try to justify himself to the haters, as is the compulsion of so much of the modern church. It would be easy to read the passage that way if your only way of thinking of the pulpit was as a place to “meet people where they are”. He doesn’t hasten to explain, “No, no, no, don’t worry guys, this isn’t what it looks like,” then spend time making excuses and explaining away, nor to say that God longs to be accepted by them as they are.
Peter pricks them in the heart. He hurts them. He tells them that Jesus has been exalted as king and will put all his enemies under his feet. He accuses the listeners of being traitorous regicides.
He tells an amazing drunken story of resurrection, repentance, baptism, and salvation.
There are a lot of separatist “fundamentalists” in my neck of the woods. These Christians separate themselves from the world, refuse to drink alcohol or expose their arms, and leave tracts instead of money in tip jars.
Who are these people? What do they matter to you and me?
They don’t matter at all.
They haven’t filled themselves with excuses and a longing to be liked by men, but neither have they been awesome. No one accuses them of being full of new wine. No one is amazed, or in doubt, or says to another, what meaneth this?
Pentecost Sunday is past. We are now in Ordinary Time. You have been given the Holy Spirit. The Kingdom is come in you. The Kingdom makes demands, it pricks in the heart. Live a life that demands the question, what meaneth this?
And if I may suggest it, perhaps you’d like to do that with the emphasis that I’ve chosen for my own good-spell telling: unapologetic feasting. Listen, these are not drunken as you suppose; they are filled with joy, and the Holy Ghost.
We are a special people.
Yes, special like the short bus.
Special like Batman.
If you are single-mindedly obsessed with saving the world, you will look ridiculous. If you act as if God is your joy and comfort, as if all your needs will be met by him, you will look ridiculous.
Live the sort of profligately joyful life that the world could only call foolhardy. As if the resources of all of Creation were yours. Because they are; your Father has promised them to you. Suffer and rejoice. Feast in your poverty. Give alms; care for widows; you will always have enough. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
This summer the Swait family is throwing a party, our second “Swait Summer Soiree”. Last year’s was a blast. We bought all the beer and provided all the food and hosted over a hundred people in our back yard. We made a huge deal out of it. Friends came from all over. We invited everyone we knew, and so many people came. There were children running all over, kicking beach balls into the street and making Kimberly fret about her newly planted blueberry bushes. There were young married couples sharing beers with divorcees on the stoop. There were rugby players and artists playing poker and smoking cigars under the dogwood trees. I tell everyone this, so you’ve probably heard me say it, but I went to sleep around two and left a dozen people hanging out around a table in our yard, keeping the party vigil. It might have been the most awesome party ever.
It was a wonderful refresher and source of joy for us.
The reason we decided to host that party last year was because I was not getting enough work, and not getting payed enough. We couldn’t pay our bills. We were struggling and weary to the point of exhaustion. We were dry and lost and grieved.
So we threw a party. Seriously. It was crazy.
And now that we’re not in crisis, and haven’t been for months, we’ll throw another party.
Let the mockers say that you are full of new wine. The truth is that you are full of the Holy Spirit. You know that you are held in the palm of God’s hand; that is why you behave the way you do. That is why you are full of joy.
This year we’ve hit Ordinary time. Easter and Pentecost are over. Where is my Risen Lord? How can I live without you here, Lord Jesus?
I have a Comforter.
Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you.
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.
And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe.
Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.
But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence.
Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask him, and said unto them, Do ye enquire among yourselves of that I said, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me?
Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.
A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.
And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.
And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.
Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.