Pentecost: Cooperating with the Divine Weaver, Acts 2


Download Audio

“Pentecost: Cooperating with the Divine Weaver”
Acts 2
June 9, 2019
Faith Presbyterian Church – Morning Service
Pr. Nicoletti

We have one more Sunday morning away from the Gospel of John today, for Pentecost Sunday.

This morning I’ll read the account of Pentecost from the Book of Acts, chapter two. We’ll read the first portion and the last portion of the chapter, and I’ll give a brief summary of the middle portion. Our focus will be the last six verses of Acts 2, but as we discuss those we’ll need the rest of the chapter as essential background.

So please do listen carefully, for this is God’s word for us this morning:

2:1 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language.7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”
14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words.

(From verse fifteen through thirty-six Peter then explains that the Holy Spirit has been poured out, he summarizes the significance of the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, and then he calls the people assembled to repent and to believe in Jesus. It will be important to note that as he makes that case, Peter quotes from the prophet Joel and King David, and Peter tells the people assembled that their words written centuries earlier were about this moment in redemptive history, and are for them. We will jump to the last portion of Peter’s sermon now, picking up in verse thirty-two. Peter continues …)

32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses.33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,

“‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
35 until I make your enemies your footstool.”’

36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

This is the word of the Lord.

“All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” [1 Peter 1:24-25]

Let’s pray …

Most merciful God,
We thank you that you have poured out your Spirit on us, your Church.
Holy Spirit, we ask you now to flood our hearts.
Revive our souls with your breath,
illuminate our minds with your light,
speak to us clearly, for you are the master of every language.
Grant then that we might truly hear your word,
be cut to the heart, believe your promises,
and put our hope in your work,
which we know is in perfect accord with the will of the Father,
and perfect unity with the work of the Son.
And it is in his name that we pray. Amen

In our text this morning, the Holy Spirit is poured out on the gathered disciples in verses one through four, and then a number of things follow from that.

John Stott helpfully divides Acts chapter two into three sections:
– verses one through thirteen is the event of Pentecost,
– verses fourteen through forty-one is the explanation of Pentecost,
– and then verses forty-two through forty-seven is the effect of Pentecost. [Stott, 61, 69, 81]

This morning we are focusing on the effect of Pentecost.

And as I thought about this passage, and the effects of Pentecost, I was struck by the cultural tendencies we have when we think about the work of the Holy Spirit.

Different traditions of the Church have focused on different elements of the work of the Holy Spirit. So in the Reformed church we focus on the role of the Holy Spirit in effectually calling a person to faith in Christ. Meanwhile in the Charismatic church the focus is on gifts of the Spirit a person might receive. In broad evangelicalism the work of the Spirit tends to be associated with emotional responses. In other parts of conservative Protestantism the Holy Spirit is associated with personal morality.

And Christians from different traditions then take these different emphases and we argue with one another about their differences.

As I thought about it, I was struck by their similarities.

In his introduction to Athanasius’s On the Incarnation – an essay often printed on its own and titled “On the Reading of Old Books” – C. S. Lewis writes:

“Every age has its own outlook. It is specially good at seeing certain truths and specially liable to make certain mistakes. […] Nothing strikes me more when I read controversies of past ages than the fact that both sides were usually assuming without question a good deal which we should now absolutely deny. They thought they were as completely opposed as two sides could be, but in fact they were all the time secretly united […] by a mass of common assumptions.” Lewis then goes on to explain that the same tendencies apply to us today. [Lewis, 12-13]

With Reformed Christians talking about the Holy Spirit and the ordo salutis, and Charismatic Christians talking about the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues, and Evangelicals talking about the Holy Spirit and their hearts, and Holiness movement Christians talking about the Holy Spirit and the reform of personal conduct, we can easily assume that these four groups are at different corners of the map.

But in all four cases, the unspoken shared assumption is often that the Holy Spirit’s work is primarily individualistic. It is work done in the individual, as an individual, isolated from other people.

And that is striking because that is, in general, how we tend to view people in our particular culture – we view them as isolated individuals. We may interact with others, but those interactions don’t change us in a truly deep way. As one theologian has put it, modern people tend to think of human beings like billiard balls in a game of pool. They might interact, they might bump into one another and bounce off of one another, but they retain their shape and after every interaction, they role away again as separate individuals. [Leithart, The Baptized Body, 8]

Individuals are primary in our cultural way of thinking. And so when we think of the Holy Spirit’s work, our default is to think about what the Holy Spirit does in individual, isolated hearts.

So we should be struck by the fact that separate work in isolated individuals is not the emphasis we get in verses forty-two through forty-seven of Acts chapter two.

What we see there is that the work of the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, is especially focused on relationships.

And that work did not start at Pentecost, but goes back to the very nature of God himself.

The Bible teaches that God is triune – that he is one God in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And while much of how the three persons relate is hidden in mystery, the Bible does tell us some things.

First, as is obvious from their biblical names, there is something in the relationship between the first person and the second person of the Trinity that is analogous to the relationship between a Father and a Son – that is something we can at least conceptualize fairly easily, but it leads to the next question: How then does the Holy Spirit (the third person of the Trinity) relate to the Father and the Son (the first two persons of the Trinity)?

C. S. Lewis addresses this question in Mere Christianity. He starts by pointing out that essential to God’s nature is that God the Father loves God the Son and God the Son loves God the Father.

Lewis then considers further the nature of the love between the first two persons of the Trinity – he writes: “The union between the Father and Son is such a live concrete thing that this union itself is also a Person. I know this is almost inconceivable, but look at it thus. You know that among human beings, when they get together in a family, or a club, or a trade union, people talk about the ‘spirit’ of that family, or club or trade union. They talk about its ‘spirit’ because the individual members, when they are together, do really develop particular ways of talking and behaving which they would not have if they were apart. It is as if a sort of communal personality came into existence. Of course, it is not a real person: it is only rather like a person. But that is just one of the differences between God and us. What grows out of the joint life of the Father and Son is a real Person, is in fact the Third of the three Persons who are God.” [Lewis, Mere Christianity, 152 (Book IV, Chapter 4) (emphasis added)]

What Lewis helps us see here is that within the Trinity, there is something fundamentally relational and relationship-oriented about the Holy Spirit.

And in many ways Lewis is just drawing on Augustine’s claim that “The Holy Spirit is a kind of inexpressible communion or fellowship of Father and Son” [Augustine, The Trinity, V,11,12], that the Holy Spirit is in some way the love between the Father and Son [Augustine, The Trinity, VI,6,5; XV,19,37; XV,17,27]

Now, both Lewis and Augustine are clear that the description breaks down if we push it to far because we must maintain that the Holy Spirit is in fact as fully a person as the Father and the Son are. And yet this relational nature of the Holy Spirit is important if we are going to understand him rightly.

Within the Trinity the Holy Spirit works in relationships. And that’s important, because in the summary picture we get immediately after Pentecost, in Acts 2:42-47, we also see that here, the Holy Spirit appears to be working in relationships.

If that is so, then it pushes us to think differently about ourselves and how the Holy Spirit works in us. I think it pushes us to think less in terms of billiard balls, and more in terms of threads.

I watched a video recently, while I was thinking about this sermon – the video was from the Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, and it was about how hand-made tapestries are created at the Gobelins in Paris, a tapestry making institute established in the seventeenth century by Louis XIV and still in operation today.

The process begins with an artist’s drawing or painting – the vision from the artist for the tapestry.

Next, the right colored threads have to be created for the tapestry. A dye expert takes plain white threads and custom dyes each of them to match the color pallet needed for the specific work that will be created.

Once the different threads are the right colors, each one is wound onto a separate spool for storage.

From the spool, the thread is then transferred to a bobbin, which is the main tool the weaver uses to then weave the thread into the warp of the loom to create the tapestry.

To do the actual weaving then, the weaver takes the bobbins with the colored thread tied to them to the vertical loom. The vertical loom has strands of undyed wool running up and down (this thread is known as the warp), and the tapestry will be made by weaving the colored threads between them, running horizontally (the colored thread is known as the woof or weft). And the weaver will often have many different threads in use at the same time, weaving them so that they interact together to create the desired image. As the weaver does this, he or she sits and works from behind the tapestry, and they use a special mirror and arrangement so that they can look through the warp to see the reflection of both the work they have done on the tapestry so far, and right along with it, a reflection of the original drawing or painting adjusted to the scale of the tapestry.

The weaver then does her work to make an intricate and detailed piece of art by weaving together different colored threads, turning the vision of the drawing into a reality in the hand-made tapestry. This process for larger hand-made tapestries can take years to complete.

[“The Art of Making a Tapestry” by Getty Museum (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jIbu-dJuEh0)]

As I thought about this I was struck by how this gives us a glimpse of the kind of work the Holy Spirit does.

The Holy Spirit is not just about working on individuals in isolation – he is not just a dyeing expert, working on dyeing thread in isolation. He is also a weaver. He is not just interested in perfecting threads, but in weaving them together in intricate patterns. He is not just interested in thread color, but in how different colored threads might interact with one another. And so while the work on individual threads is very important … it’s actually a means towards an end – the whole reason the threads are transformed is so that they can be woven together with other threads on the loom.

This is, in a sense, the picture we get in verses forty-two to forty-seven, because this passage is all about relationships.

As we consider our text, and that final paragraph in particular, what we see is that the Holy Spirit, poured out on the Church, is working to weave people together in relationships. Our calling is to co-operate … but our tendency is often to resist.

Let me say that again: The Holy Spirit, poured out on the Church, is working to weave people together in relationships. Our calling is to co-operate … but our tendency is often to resist.

And John Stott points out that we see the Holy Spirit’s work play out in four different relationships in verses 42 through 47. We see it play out for the early Christians
– in their relationship with the apostles,
– in their relationship with other believers,
– in their relationship with the Lord, and
– in their relationship with the nonbelieving world.

So, we see the results of the Holy Spirit’s work weaving people together in relationship, as he is at work in Christians’ relationships to the apostles, to other believers, to the Lord, and to the world.

We’re going to look at each of those in our text, and ask how we resist the work of the Holy Spirit in those areas, as well as how we should cooperate with the Holy Spirit.

So first, we see that the Holy Spirit is at work in Christians’ relationship to the Apostles.

In the last paragraph of our text we see that in the first half of verse 42 and in verse 43. There we read that the Christians devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and that awe came upon them as they beheld the signs and wonders performed by the apostles.

And while you and I do not see the apostles with our own eyes, or hear their voices directly from their mouths, we need to recognize that both naturally and supernaturally we, you and I, have real relationships with the apostles, and with every prophet whom God has called to deliver his word in the Scriptures.

Christians believe that the Bible – that this book – was written by men – by the apostles and prophets – who were carried along by the Holy Spirit. And we believe, as Peter says in First Peter 1:12 that they wrote it not only for their original audience, but for those who would come after them.

That assumption underlies much of the apostles’ teaching – and we know this because of Peter’s sermon in verses fourteen through thirty-nine, where Peter, as we said, repeatedly quotes prophets who had written their words centuries earlier, and he asks his audience to respond rightly to them. He was calling them to relate rightly to King David and the Prophet Joel, both of whom had died centuries before those Peter was speaking to had been born.

The apostles and prophets wrote this book … for you. For others as well, yes, but also for you.

And a few things follow from that. When you respond to this book, you are responding not just to pages with words, but to the people God called as his ambassadors – his apostles and prophets.

And it means that if you believe that the apostles and prophets really were called and commissioned by God, then you too are called to devote yourself to their teaching and marvel at their works.

In other words, you have a real relationship with the apostles and prophets – either a right one or a wrong one. And the Holy Spirit’s work is to put you in a right relationship with the apostles and prophets.

In general, people are more deeply connected across generations and even centuries than we tend to think – in families and in nations the past generation entrusts something to the present generation, who must steward that trust with the future generation in mind.

Michael Brendan Dougherty, a Christian cultural and political commentator whom I’ve quoted before puts it like this – he writes: “the past reproaches the present on behalf of the future.” [Dougherty, 204]

“The past reproaches the present on behalf of the future.”

There’s a sense in which this is true in all societies. But it is true in an even more substantial way in the Church, because in the Church God’s people are connected not just naturally, through cultures and institutions, but supernaturally, through the Holy Spirit, who weaves us together in the story of his people. The prophets entrusted the people of God with truths which the apostles would tell men and women generations later that they must embrace and steward well, so that the promises can be not only for them, but for their children and all who are far off. And that same deposit has been entrusted from the apostles down through the history of the Church, and now it comes to you and me. And such a deposit, entrusted to us, comes with obligations.

“The past reproaches the present on behalf of the future.”

The Holy Spirit seeks to connect us to the prophets, the apostles, and the whole mass of the past people of God. And as he does, he gives us an obligation both to steward well what they have given us as the present people of God, and to seek to enrich it further rather than diminish it as we prepare to hand it to the next generation.

We often resist this. We treat the Bible like words on a page instead of communication with those past ambassadors from God. We think of ourselves in isolation from the prophets, apostles, and believers from the past. We do not feel an obligation to steward well the centuries-old trust given to us. Or if we do sense that obligation, we fail to see that accepting it is a commitment not only to preserve it, but to cultivate it for the needs of the next generation, to continue to draw out things from the Scriptures that our generation and the next generation will most need to hear.

Our tendency is to resist this calling … but our calling is to cooperate with the Holy Spirit, poured out on the Church, who is working to weave us into relationship with the apostles, as well as believers from the past, and believers yet to come.

Our calling is to devote ourselves to the Word of God knowing we are interacting not just with a book, but with those men of faith who have gone before us – that we are receiving not just information from them, but a sacred trust.

Our calling is to devote ourselves to the historic people of God, drawing from and appreciating the wisdom they have accrued from the Scriptures, and seeking to steward it faithfully.

And our calling is not just to echo the deposit we receive, but to live it out now and cultivate it for the future. As church historian Jaroslav Pelikan has put it: “Tradition is the living faith of the dead; traditionalism is the dead faith of the living.” [Pelikan, 9]

The first thing our text shows us is that the Holy Spirit, poured out on the Church, is working to weave us into relationship with the apostles, and all other believers past and future.

Second, we see that the Holy Spirit, poured out on the Church, is working to weave us into relationship with other believers in the Church here and now.

We see that in verse forty-two, where we read that just as the early Christians were devoted to the apostles’ teaching, so they were also devoted to the fellowship of other believers. In verses forty-four and forty-five we read that that fellowship included sharing their gifts with one another so that they had all things in common.

That term, in verse forty-two, translated “fellowship” is the Greek word koinonia, which can be translated as “association” or “community”. Aristotle used it to refer to communities where people “share projects, goods, and talent with each other” In Acts 2 the picture we get is of a community, a fellowship, a koinonia where God has given gifts to everyone through the Holy Spirit. And those gifts are then meant to be shared. Their whole purpose is to be shared. The gifts are like seeds to be sown in relationship with fellow believers. And as those gifts, given first by the Spirit, then move from believer to believer, then those Christians lives are woven together more and more. God gives his people gifts. And in verses forty-four and forty-five we read of how the Holy Spirit then wove Christians to one another in the sharing of those gifts – in the giving and receiving between them, and in that way they devoted themselves to the fellowship – the community they had together. [See Leithart, Against Christianity, 26-28]

Our tendency, though, is to resist this work of the Holy Spirit. We want to be changed individually by the Holy Spirit … but we’d prefer to avoid the difficulties of deep relationships with other believers – relationships where we’d need to deal with the real messiness of their lives and hearts, and relationships where people would see the real messiness of our own lives and hearts. But when we avoid such relationships, we miss one of the purposes of the Holy Spirit, as testified to in our text.

When we act this way, we act as thread that wants to stay on the spool, rather than be joined into the tapestry. Remember, at the beginning, the thread is taken and it is dyed by a dye expert, until its color is just right. That’s the part I think we often focus on in our spiritual lives – that’s what we want, often. We want the Holy Spirit to work on transforming us personally. And then we are happy to be loaded onto the spool, all by ourselves, and kept in storage.

But that misses the point of why the thread was dyed in the first place. It was dyed in order to be woven together with other threads in the tapestry. It was dyed so that it would serve to highlight, or complement, or contrast with other threads in the tapestry. It was dyed so that it would itself be enhanced by the threads it was woven together with by the weaver’s hand.

That is harder work. It takes longer than the dyeing process even. But it is the work the Holy Spirit longs to do. Your calling is to cooperate with that.

Have you allowed the Holy Spirit to weave your life into the lives of other believers? Have you entered into relationships where you seek to share the gifts you have been given as the other has need? And I don’t just mean financially, but I mean gifts of insight and experience and wisdom and faith and temperament. And in those same relationships have you sought to have your needs met by trusted fellow believers? We often marvel at the Christians in verse forty-five who gave up what they had to meet the need of another believer, but that also required the other believer to admit their need so it could be met.

As you look at your Christian life, is it being woven into the lives of other Christians in deep and meaningful ways … or is it a life still on the spool in many ways, as you keep yourself, or your marriage, or your family at arms-length from fellow believers?

And if your life looks like a life on the spool, who might the Holy Spirit be looking to weave you together with? Who might you draw close to both to share your gifts with them and bless them, and to receive their gifts and be blessed by them?

This passage, which shows us the results of the Holy Spirit’s work should confront us. We should not be satisfied with a lone-ranger Christian life. We should not be satisfied with life on the spool. We are called to cooperate with the Divine Weaver who brings many threads together in relationship to create a tapestry like the one described in verses forty-two through forty-seven. We are called to devote ourselves to the fellowship, to the community of believers by sharing our gifts and our needs.

So, we see in this passage that the Holy Spirit, poured out on the Church,
– First: is working to weave us into relationship with the apostles, and the people of God of generations past,
– And second: he is working to weave us into relationship with other believers in the Church here and now.

Third, we see is that the Holy Spirit, poured out on the Church, is working to weave us into relationship with God.

I will not spend much time on this point, not because it isn’t important – it is important – but because I think most Christians already think of this work of the Spirit.

I won’t spend much time on it … but I do want to highlight how Acts 2 describes the Holy Spirit’s work in doing that.

As we look at verses 42 through 47, as we look at the results of the Holy Spirit’s work, as John Stott says, we see that the believers’ lives are being united with God especially through worship. That is, most likely, what the last portion of verse forty-two is referring to when it says that the Church devoted themselves to “the breaking of bread and the prayers.” It’s what verse forty-six and the first half of forty-seven are referring to as well.

Coming together to pray to God, to praise God, to break bread together – which is likely a reference to the Lord’s Supper, the Eucharist – in these things we see that it was in corporate worship that God was drawing his people to himself.

We are reminded that in addition to attending to the Apostles teaching (which we mentioned earlier), the Holy Spirit is weaving God’s people into closer relationship with God through the simple means of prayer and corporate worship.

Do you approach prayer with that goal – the goal of deepening your relationship with God? Do you approach Lord’s Day worship with that goal in mind?

As I’ve pointed out before, there is a reason our worship is structured as a dialogue: God calls us, we respond in praise and confession, God declares his forgiveness of us, and we respond by professing our faith and bringing him our petitions, God instructs us by his word, we commit ourselves to him in song together. Every movement is like the weaver’s bobbin, as the Holy Spirit weaves our lives and hearts into God’s life and heart.

Your call is to not hold your life and heart back from God in prayer and worship – to not wall off your heart from him when you are here or in prayer, but to cooperate with the Holy Spirit’s work to unite your heart to God’s.

So, the Holy Spirit, poured out on the Church, is working to weave us into relationship with the apostles and the covenant community of the past, he is working to weave us into relationship with other believers here and now in the present, and he is working to weave us into relationship with God through prayer and worship.

Finally, the Holy Spirit, poured out on the Church, is working to weave us into redemptive relationships with the non-believing world around us.

And I’m going to spend very little time on this, because we’re actually going to focus on this this evening in our 6:00 service as we consider the second half of First Samuel 16 … so I would encourage you to join us this evening.

But I will at least point out right now that the immediate drive of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost is towards the non-believing world.

When the Spirit descends, it is non-believers who are drawn to the event and begin asking questions in verses five through thirteen.

When the Spirit descends on the Apostle Peter, the first thing he does is to address the world of non-believers around him and call them to faith in Christ. The actual descent of the Holy Spirit takes up four verses. The resulting drive of the Church to turn to the world in mission takes up the next 37 verses!

And the turn towards the world is not a one-time thing. In the summary of the results of Pentecost in verses forty-two through forty-seven, we also read that the church continued after Pentecost to have favor with all the people, and that the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Our tendency, again, is to resist this. We want to keep the work of the Spirit in the confines of the church building. We might be okay with the Holy Spirit weaving us together within the church’s walls, but we’re not so sure about him bringing in new outside thread for his tapestry.

But Acts 2 shows us that the Holy Spirit’s intent is to incorporate all kinds of new threads and colors – threads and colors we had not yet imagined – and he intends to incorporate them by weaving our lives together in redemptive ways with the world around us.

Our text reminds us that that is key to the work of the Spirit, and to resist that is to resist the work of the Holy Spirit.

How do we think about doing that? Well … for that … come back tonight.

The Holy Spirit, poured out on the Church,
– is working to weave us into relationship with the apostles and the covenant community of the past,
– he is working to weave us into relationships with other believers in the Church here and now in the present,
– he is working to weave us into relationship with God through prayer and worship,
– and he is working to weave us into redemptive relationships with the non-believing world around us.

Pentecost is a reminder that if we are to be a Christian church enlivened by the same Holy Spirit who was poured out on Pentecost, then we cannot think of ourselves in isolation from the past people of God or the Scriptures they produced.

It is a reminder that we cannot think of our Christian lives in isolation from the Body of Christ – that the goal of the Spirit’s work in our hearts is not to make us into beautifully dyed thread sitting on the spool … it is so that we might be woven into the tapestry the Spirit is making, snug and tightly bound to other believers who are different from us.

It is a reminder that the Spirit weaves our hearts towards God through real interaction and dialogue with God, as we have in prayer and in worship.

It is a reminder that the Church exists not just for itself but for those outside of her who have not yet joined her membership.

The Apostle Paul reminds us that the clay cannot say to the potter “Why did you make me this way?”

We might add that the thread cannot say to the weaver “Why did you put me here?” “Why did you weave me close to this one or that one?” “Why have you woven me into this tapestry so that I am inseparable from so many others now?” This is the work of the Holy Spirit. This is the work of the Divine Weaver. Do not resist him, but cooperate with him.

Because the tapestry he has in mind – the tapestry he is working to make using you and me – is far more beautiful than anything you or I could ever imagine.

Amen.

This sermon draws on material from:
Augustine. The Trinity. Translated by Edmund Hill. Edited by John E. Rotelle. Second Edition. Hyde Park, NY: New City Press, 2012.
Bock, Darrell L. Acts. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2007.
Dougherty, Michael Brendan. My Father Left Me Ireland. New York, NY: Sentinal, 2019.
Getty Museum. “The Art of Making a Tapestry” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jIbu-dJuEh0)
Leithart, Peter J. Against Christianity. Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 2003.
Leithart, Peter J. The Baptized Body. Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 2007.
Lewis, C. S. Mere Christianity. New York, NY: Touchstone, 1952.
Lewis, C.S. “Preface to the First Edition” in On the Incarnation by St. Athanasius the Great of Alexandria. Translated by John Behr. Popular Patristics Series. Number 44a. Yonkers, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2011 (Lewis’s Preface: 1944).
Pelikan, Jaroslav. The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600). The Christian Tradition. Vol 1. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1971.
Stott, John R. W. The Message of Acts: The Spirit, the Church & the World. Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1990.