Their sound hath gone forth into all the world; how do we hear it?

Acts 2:1-11


In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


I greet you today on the Holy Day of Pentecost. And on this day, we hear, "As many as have been baptized in to Christ have put on Christ. Alleluia."[1] And we also hear today, "Their sound hath gone forth into all the world."[2]


What is this sound? The sound is of the rushing wind, the mighty wind. But even in the midst of this sound there are people who are deaf, like the adder that stoppeth up his ears[3], because the Pharisees heard the same sound. The Pharisees saw Christ, saw his miracles, and they didn't believe. They heard -- they heard well -- and they did not believe.


Whether or not there are triflers who cannot believe the bare truth, and sing "Alleluia"[4], the sound is throughout all the world, there is no doubt about that. The apostles have spread, and their apostles, and their apostles, and even now to this time, such a lowly one as myself, being of their line -- not an apostle, but a priest. And the word is still being spread, and you have the option to listen or not to listen.


The Good News is not only that Christ has made our flesh able to live by His Crucifixion and subsequent Resurrection of His own power, making flesh capable of obtaining God. Not only that news, but the good news today is that the Holy Spirit will help us. He is called the Comforter[5]. The Holy Spirit searches out the things of God, the deep things of God, things that we cannot even utter, things that we cannot even think, but which motivate us and can change us. He searches out those things, and He gives them to us.


He would to give them to everyone, but everyone will not hear. Christ also said in another context, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem … how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!"[6] The Holy Spirit enlightens a man when he wishes to be enlightened. The Holy Spirit fills a man when he empties out of himself that which fills him which is impure and corrupt. But again, I say that the good news is that the Holy Spirit helps us even in emptying ourselves. Without the Holy Spirit, we cannot live. Without the Holy Spirit, we would not be able to actualize the Resurrection in our life; we would not have the ability.


Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit speaks incessantly, eternally of Christ. He reveals to us the things of Christ.[7] He doesn't speak of Himself; He speaks of Christ. And Christ occasionally, as well as speaking of His Father and of Himself, will tell us, in a dark way, about the Holy Spirit. Because I tell you, the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, which is pivotal in the Christian faith, is a dark thing. It is not something which is talked about in extreme exactitude. The Holy Spirit enlightens a man like the wind blows[8]. We don't know how the wind blows, we don’t know where it's going to, we don't know where it's coming from. But it brings life to the earth. Somehow, the wind brings water to the earth. We don't know how. We might know something of the science, but we don’t know exactly how. The same thing is true about the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit blows through the church, and enlightens those who will stop, and stand in the wind, and desire to change.


Christ said, "He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water...”[9] We should take pause sometimes to meditate on the indescribable beauty of the scriptures. "Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." What a beautiful image this is -- but not just an image, because out of his belly shall flow the grace of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will enliven a man, and just as water flows down the mountain and cannot be stopped, and enriches and enlivens everything, so the Holy Spirit will flow through a man and will never stop, will well up, and up, and never be extinguished, and will enlighten not only this man, but all those who are around him, if he lives in the Spirit.


And what is this, "in the Spirit"? We talk about living in the Spirit; what is this? It is nothing less than hearing the will of God, the word of God, the law of God, and doing it. Being obedient to the teachings of the All-Holy Trinity; living according to who God is. That's being in the Spirit. And I tell you, if you live in that way, then you will be enlightened by the Spirit, in things great and small. And you will not be doubting, and God will help you in all things.


But there is an effort involved, an effort involved to allow yourself to be filled with the Spirit. We don't talk today that much about the particulars of the difficulties living the Christian life; that is for other times. Did you notice that in the Acts it just was the event of the apostles speaking in other tongues to everyone that we speak about. We don't really go into yet how the Spirit enlivens a man, but if you read the book of Acts, you will see. And if you read the Epistles, you will see. And if you read the Gospels, you will see. And if you come to the services and listen to the beauty of our chant, you will see. God will be there. You will feel and know Him. "Out of your belly shall flow rivers of living water." You won't be corrupt anymore; you will be alive. The purpose of our life is to know God. Because to know God is to become like Him, because it cannot be otherwise, because he who loves becomes like the one he loves. It always is this way.


Now we have desire. Maybe it's a small desire, maybe it's a large desire, maybe, in some cases, it is only a desire to have the desire! Regardless, if we have some desire somewhere, God will help us to become like Him. The purpose of our life. There's nothing else that's important. And today we celebrate that God has given us a great gift, so that we can do these things we desire. The Holy Spirit is that great gift. May we be worthy of such a great gift. Amen.



Acts 2:1-11


And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. {2} And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. {3} And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. {4} And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. {5} And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. {6} Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. {7} And they were all amazed and marveled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? {8} And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? {9} Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, {10} Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, {11} Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.


Priest Seraphim Holland 2000.     St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas


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[1] During the Divine Liturgy, instead of the usual Trisagion Hymn ("Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, Have mercy on us", we sing "As many have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Alleluia"

[2] The prokeimenon for Pentecost and the Holy Apostles chanted and sung before the reading of the Epistle.

[3] (Psa 58:3-4)  The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies. {4} Their poison is like the poison of a serpent: they are like the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear;

[4] From the Akathist

[5] (John 14:26)  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. (and other places)


[6] (Mat 23:37)  O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!

[7] (John 16:13-15)  Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. {14} He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you. {15} All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you.

[8] (John 3:8)  The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

[9] John 7:38