Pentecost sermon on faith, hope and forgiveness

Peace be with you all on this Pentecost Sunday. The message of today is of Hope and Forgiveness, which we receive through the Holy Spirit. But today we also remember the importance of forgiving others. For “if you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven,” (John 20:23). When we are open to receive the Holy Spirit, we are also open to give and receive the divine forgiveness necessary for us to become one, unified under the common good of God. “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ,” (1 Cor 12:12). When we were baptized in the name of the Holy Spirit, we entered the one body of Christ, and here we remain to give and receive God’s blessings.


So what is the Pentecost and what does it mean for us? In the Bible, the story of the Pentecost represents some of the most miraculous of events: when all the believers were filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit and were open to direct communion with God. This is when the people were not just speaking in tongues, but also able to hear the word of God in their own language, using symbols and stories that are meaningful to them. Each one of us is unique, but in God’s eye we are one people.


Therefore, the message of Pentecost is clear: to remember that we are one as humanity in the body of Christ. Imagine if we could all speak the same language: this is the miracle of the Pentecost, providing us with the means to finding unity in our diversity, overcoming our differences with love and kindness, hope and forgiveness. It is our hope, every one of us, that we realize a true peace on earth. The only way we can fulfill the vision of peace on earth is by not allowing our differences to render us asunder. Remember that in God’s eyes, there are no differences between us because we are of one body in Christ. When we recognize our unity, it becomes easier for us to forgive, to let the grace of God flow freely through us in all our interactions with others.


Do you have someone you need to forgive? Of course you do—we have all been wronged by someone at some point. We all have parents who let us down, children who let us down, bosses who annoy us or who do not pay us enough, or even those who have committed evil and egregious acts towards us or our loved ones. The Pentecost is a perfect time to open your heart and allow the Holy Spirit to flow freely, letting your anger and resentment dissipate because they serve no one: not you and certainly, not God.


Maybe you have heard the phrase, “to err is human, to forgive is divine.” That saying is rooted in the Bible, because true forgiveness does come from the Holy Spirit. Yes, you need to be willing to forgive, but in our limited vision, we are too often clouded by emotions and faulty thinking. We need God’s help to forgive. Any one of us who has tried to forgive someone who we do not believe worthy of that forgiveness knows how difficult it can be to feel that sense of grace in our hearts. On the Pentecost, God is asking us clearly and directly to let the Holy Spirit move us towards the betterment of humanity through forgiveness. We are not talking about the small things, the accidents, the things that are easy to forgive. We are talking about the big issues: the ones that cause us to hold grudges against a person or even against a whole group of people for the sins committed by their ancestors.


Consider that it is a miracle to forgive someone who has genuinely wronged us, or to forgive ourselves when we feel nothing but self-hatred, doubt, or shame. This is why we need the Grace of God, the Holy Spirit, to help. We are human, and therefore we sin, we make errors, we have faults and we fail. Not one among us is perfect, but through the Holy Spirit we can receive a level of forgiveness that is truly transformative, and each one of us is deserving of that love.


The most difficult task we face sometimes is forgiveness, and sometimes we even need to forgive God. Forgiveness often means getting out of our own way, letting go of that part of us that clings to our petty thoughts of bitterness, fear, and pain. Have patience, have faith, and all will be forgiven and redeemed. Forgiveness is the healing power of God in action. Rather than requiring effort, forgiveness requires us to let go and receive God’s grace, the Holy Spirit.


Finally, let us talk about hope, which is a counterpart to faith and to forgiveness. When we forgive others, we express hope that through our forgiveness the person is also redeemed in Christ. We hope that the world may become a better place through God’s grace and forgiveness. If we refuse to forgive, we are essentially refusing to allow the Holy Spirit to flow freely in our world. We resist the power of Christ if we do not forgive. To not forgive is to lack hope, and can even mean a loss of faith. Faith is the transformative profession of love for Christ, which is a power that is bestowed by the Holy Spirit through our baptism. “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit,” (1 Cor 12:3). Just as it is not us who forgives, but the Holy Spirit, so too it is not us which has faith but through the power of God that makes it so.


Faith springs forth when we allow the Holy Spirit to move freely through us. Focusing only on the world around us, we can easily be tricked into seeing a bad world, a world filled with bad people, selfish people, people who commit acts of violence and who seem to have no goodness within them. If we close ourselves off to the good that is in the world, we also close ourselves off to Christ. Today we become more aware that through Christ, we have the power to heal, to forgive, and to allow ourselves to be transformed through hope, love, and kindness.












Bible: NIV


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