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Pentecost Day 2024
The Milestone of Life
Vicar Kinne
Texts: John 15:26-27 & 16:4b-15; Acts 2: 1-21; Ezekiel 37:1-14

The stadium is packed with people. The band plays Pomp and Circumstance for the last time. The valedictorian gives his speech. The principal, whether liked or not by the students, shakes each graduate’s hand and gives them a blank booklet intended for a piece of paper that will be sent in the mail in a few weeks. The class stands up together for the last time, and many thrilled students toss their caps up in the air hoping to find them again among in the sea of other thrown hats. Then everyone breaks off for pictures with grandmas and grandpas, and then to parties for a little bit. This is a scene many of us have witnessed which honors students for achievement in their studies and involvement in the community. 

For some of us, it might bring back memories of the “good ole days”. Yet for some of us this memory is no more than a week old. Either way, times like these are meant to be celebratory for yet one more milestone in life is achieved. 

However, memories of these milestones never come with all cords fully tied. Some loose ends are never mended while new things begin. “What am I gonna do now?” “Should I be taking a year off?” “Do I go to college, or do I just work?” “Do I live with my parents, or do I move out?” Looking into the unknown future can be scary! This is because life does not always show you what the next milestone is. Uncertainty can cause a spike in one’s anxiety. But we should always remember that God looks over His children. He takes care of every single one of us. And even though we may not understand the tests and trials God puts us through in a given moment, faith clings to Him, and He will give us the strength to make it through the next milestone in life.

A recent study says around 40% of college students report they have attended a church service of some kind within their first month of school. They may be going for different reasons. A student could just be a regular church goer and continue the path they were instructed in from childhood. Maybe some students see leaving their parents’ home for the first time as an opportunity to explore other options. After all, going to see what church is “all about” would be educational for their young adult experience. Regardless of the reason, it is also said that somewhere between 50-80% of these students who attend a service in their first month of college also fall away from going to church all together. This means less than 20% of our college students today are walking through their college life with a Christian spiritual guide.

It does not matter what the plans are for their future—going to college, getting a job, getting married, buying a house, having children, traveling the world, maybe having all of these things at one time—parents sending a child out into the world is scary! After all, Christian parents live in the wisdom that the ways of this sinful world can lead a young person down the path of evil and ultimately death. There are incredible and beautiful things God puts in His creation for all of us to enjoy, and we want our children to see and experience those things, but at what cost? Will they get to their destination safely? Will they stay on the straight and narrow path along the way? These questions are uncertain. But there is always one certainty that brings us comfort and that is the message of Christ’s Gospel. 

There is only one person in the history of mankind who never strayed away from the path of righteousness, that is Jesus Christ. This may sound like a cliché Sunday school answer, but the truth of this Gospel needs to be the most precious thing to a person. It needs to be valued above one’s educational degree, one’s marriage, one’s job, and even one’s children. The things of this world always change, but the gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord is the only milestone that is certain and matters!

Today, we commemorate a celebratory moment in the church year, Pentecost. In the Hebrew calendar this feast is celebrated 50 days after Passover. During the time of Jesus’ ministry and the early church, Jews and God-fearing people would come to Jerusalem for this festival to give thanks to God for the Torah; the word of God handed to Moses on Mount Sinai. But for the Christian, it is 50 days after one of the greatest milestones in history… the resurrection of our Lord. On this day we celebrate a type of graduation, one that would change the history of the whole world. 

As the disciples gather in a house on Pentecost, Jesus, from His ascended throne sends the Holy Spirit like a rushing wind among them. This “helper”, as Jesus called Him in John’s Gospel, gives the disciples a special ability. This ability given to them is far more valuable than a piece of paper with a signature saying, “This Disciple of Jesus has been given full honors and is suited to preach on behalf of the Church”. No, this “diploma” from Holy Spirit is practical and instrumental in fulfilling Jesus’ command of going out to make disciples of all nations and baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They are given the ability to speak in any language so that all who are in Jerusalem for the Feast of Pentecost can hear that the Messiah, Jesus Christ, was put to death as a sacrifice for the world, He was raised from dead, and ascended on high.  

Can you list the works of Christ on your transcript?  Did you earn this credit?  Of course not.  Jesus’ work, alone, saves you. You did nothing to earn your salvation.  Like the worst participant in a group project, you earn the credit of the best in the group; the one who did all the work for you. It is a comfort to know that Jesus’ dying on the cross and His conquering over death still gives you an A+ before our Father in heaven.

 When you feel like you are not worthy of Christ’s forgiveness, take a look at whom our Lord chooses to give the Holy Spirit to on Pentecost. These disciples betrayed Him. They ran away and disowned their Master before He was crucified. They hid in locked rooms fearing that they may be put to death by the Jews. Even after Jesus presents Himself to them multiple times after the resurrection, they are still scared. 

These men do not seem fit to graduate from their seminary experience! But they are witnesses of Christ’s ministry. They saw Him raise people from the dead. They saw Him heal the lame, the deaf, mute, blind, and even cast out demons. They saw storms being stilled by His word alone. Because they are witnesses of these things, they are also the chosen candidates to receive the Holy Spirit and be sent to the four corners of the ancient world to spread the Good News of what they witnessed before men. So, knowing the disciples are forgiven and receive life and salvation even after denying Christ to His face, you can be confident that your Savior saves you.


When the disciples receive the Holy Spirit, it is as if a veil is taken away from their face. They understand the mission their Master has for them in the world. Before Pentecost, they sat behind closed doors waiting in anxiety, thinking their lives were coming to an end. But now the Holy Spirit is directing them. They are not ashamed of the Gospel. In fact, they are so confident in preaching Christ crucified, that over 3000 people at that day believe in Jesus and are baptized. Everywhere the disciples went, the Word of God is preached, and new believers are brought into the family of God. 


That day of Pentecost in Jerusalem, with the bestowal of the Holy Spirit in wind and flame, is a type of graduation. But like graduation from school, it did not ensure a trouble free life.  Just because you have a diploma, just because you graduate with high honors, does not mean that there will be no trouble. You may apply for your dream job and be denied. You may ask your high school sweetheart to marry you and she says, “I don’t”. You may pursue a course of study at the university and flunk required classes.  You may try moving out of your parents’ house just to be turned away after submitting a renter’s application. 

Just because the disciples are given the gift of the Holy Spirit, it does not mean that everything goes according to their plan. It does not mean that everything is smooth sailing after Pentecost. In fact, the life of the disciples becomes busier and harder. Yes, the Lord provides for them in the ministry, but many reject Jesus and His followers bringing the Good News.  And because of this the disciples were persecuted, as Jesus said they would in Matthew chapter 5, 10“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Some of these disciples are innocently imprisoned. Some escape death on multiple accounts. Others are stoned to death. Peter is crucified upside down! Being given the Holy Spirit and sent to be witnesses for Jesus makes their lives difficult. Most people reject Jesus and His followers and turn away from His church. For the apostles, receiving the Holy Spirit brings hardship and trouble in this life. But by the Holy Spirit these men know that comfort in this life is not the most important thing. 

Through your parents you inherit sin and death. It is this sin and death our Lord overcomes by His cross and resurrection. At your baptism He gives the diploma of everlasting life through the water and the Word where you receive His Holy Spirit and His righteousness. His name is autographed on your forehead and upon your heart marking you as one redeemed by Christ the crucified. 

Graduations are big milestones in life, but the ultimate milestone is eternal life. This is coming for you as a gift from the Lord. Just like the disciples, death may come to you before our Lord returns but the life He gives to you and everyone in the church is ultimately bigger and better than this sinful life we are in now.

So, toss your hats everyone! You have the Holy Spirit living in you. You are a temple for the Breath of God. Celebrate and share the good news with others in the world! Be graduates of the church not ashamed of the diploma you have been given. Give thanks for God’s continual gift of His love in His Word and Sacraments. Rejoice because our Lord gives you His gown of righteousness! Amen.