Orthodox Christian Church of the Holy Spirit
Orthodox Church in America - Archdiocese of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania
145 N. Kern St Beavertown PA, 17813
Great and Holy Pentecost

          Glory to Jesus Christ!  Glory forever!

In the Name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink.  He that believeth in Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.’


          On this most glorious day of Great and Holy Pentecost, we know quite well what happens there in the upper room full of Jesus’ followers and how what happens there overflows into the streets of Jerusalem filled with pilgrims attending the week long Feast of Tabernacles.  But, do we know why?  We know certain facts like the sound of a rushing mighty wind, the cloven tongues as of fire that sat upon each of those disciples gathered, and, of course, the tongues . . . the languages spoken by those baptized in the Spirit of power and of fire, the Spirit of Living Water poured out on that great and awesome Day (Ac. 2:1-11).  But, what was this all about?  Our question is very much that which was also being asked by those souls who experienced the Pentecost phenomena there in Jerusalem on that day, “’What meaneth this?,’” they asked (Ac. 2:12).  “What does this mean?”

          To understand today’s historical outpouring of the Holy Spirit, we need to turn again to those days leading up to our Lord’s Ascension and His words we heard on that Feast ten days ago.  Just before His glorification on the Cross, our Lord promises His soon-to-be bereaved disciples that He would not leave them as orphans, but come to them once more and send to them His Holy Spirit.  “’And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper [Paraclete],’” Jesus says, “’that He may abide with you forever . . . and will be in you’” (Jn. 14:16, 17, 18).  And, again, just before His Ascension into the heavens, Jesus tells His Apostles that they are to wait in Jerusalem for “’the promise of the Father.’”  He reminds them that they will “’be baptized with the Holy Spirit,’” just as the Forerunner and Baptizer of our Lord once prophesied (Mt. 3:11; Mk. 1:8; Lk. 3:15; Ac. 1:1-8), and that this Holy Spirit, the promise of the Father sent by Jesus, with Whom they would be baptized, would endue His disciples “’with power from on high’” (Lk. 24:46-49).  It would not be with an earthly power – a power of this world or from this world – but a power beyond themselves from on high with which they would be clothed for service to God and His Kingdom, reminiscent of the Prophet Zechariah’s words, “’”Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,” saith the Lord of Hosts’” (Zc. 4:6).  These newly empowered servants of God would then be witnesses of all the things done by God in His Son, preaching repentance and remission of sins in the Name of the crucified and glorified Jesus (Lk. 24:46-49; Ac. 1:8). 

In the Acts account of the sending down of the promised Holy Spirit, then, we see a distinct transformation in these formerly timid souls who once cowered behind locked doors on the evening of Pascha (Jn. 20:19).  It is St. Paul who encourages his protégé, Bishop Timothy, reminding him that “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”  The Apostle Paul goes on, then, to urge his colleague to not be ashamed of the testimony of Jesus and to share with the Apostle “in the sufferings of the Gospel,” but to do so – as any of us can hope – “according to the power of God” (2 Tm. 1:7-8). 

          This power, beloved, is not of ourselves.  It is not something we can produce at will or conjure up on a moment’s notice.  It is God’s power from above, divine power, the same power by which we must be born again from above (Jn. 3:1-15).  This power, beloved, is not something but Someone.  This power is a Person, just as surely as the Father and the Son are Persons in Their own right.  This power is the third Person of the Holy Trinity, sent by the Son from the Father to the Church and her faithful and obedient sons and daughters.  For the Spirit of God, declares the now empowered St. Peter, is “’given to those who obey [God]’” (Ac. 5:32).  That’s right, we must obey God if we wish to have His Spirit. 

It is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of holiness, Who gives to each of us in the Church and through the Church the power of divine Life, just as surely as a branch receives its life from the vine (Jn. 15:1-17).  Jesus is the true Vine and we are His branches, if we are in Him, that is, in His Body, His Church, and the Life He gives – the Life we receive from Him – is the Holy Spirit, “the Lord, the Giver of Life” (Nicene Creed).  It is the Holy Spirit Who empowers us to confess this “Jesus . . . is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (1 Cr. 12:3; Pp. 2:10-11).    

It is true, the Holy Spirit empowered the Church and her believers to do signs and miracles, especially in the early years of the Church.  However, this should not be our focus like it is for those of the Pentecostal and Charismatic traditions.  In other words, it’s not why God has poured out into us the gift of His Spirit.  He is given to make each of us into “a living soul,” just as at creation when we were formed in the image of God and according to His likeness.  God breathed into man His divine breath, His Spirit, and he became a living soul (Gn. 1:26-27; 2:7; WS 2:23; 2 Cr. 3:18; Ep. 4:24; Co. 3:10; 2 Pe. 1:4).  It is the Holy Spirit Who is given to those bearing the image of the divine and who are made to be immortal, unlike the rest of creation.  It is the Holy Spirit Who is Life Eternal for us, Who imparts to us as the new creation of God the promised Eternal Life of His Son, Jesus Christ (Jn. 3:15-16; 2 Cr. 5:17).  This is the power of God unto our salvation and sanctification, even as St. John the Theologian declares in the first chapter of his Holy Gospel.  He writes:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  The same was in the beginning with God.  All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made.  In Him was Life, and that Life was the Light of men. . . . [A]s many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to those who believe in His Name, who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God (Jn. 1:1-4, 12-13).


          This is what our Lord invites us to this morning when He says to those “on the last day, that great day of the feast [of Tabernacles], . . . ‘If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink.  He that believeth in Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.’”  This is what we heard Jesus say to St. Photini by the well in Samaria, is it not?  “’Whoever drinks of this water [of Jacob’s well or any well for that matter],’” He says,  

‘will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst again.  But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into Everlasting Life’ (Jn. 4:13-14).


          And just what does our Lord offer, but the Holy Spirit Who is given after our Lord’s glorification?  The Holy Spirit, along with the Father and the Son, is given to the Church on the great Day of Pentecost where He abides and springs forth like an ever-flowing fountain.  When we drink from the Church’s divine pool of living water, the Spirit of God, along with the Father and the Son, tabernacles in each of the Church’s baptized, chrismated, and eucharistized faithful.  He is the Living Water pouring forth from the throne of God in Paradise to refresh the fatigued and weary, re-create the old, restore the fallen, heal the sin-sick soul, renew the barren, quench the thirsty, enliven the dead, comfort the burdened, aid the needy, reveal the Father through the Son, guide to the Truth, lead in the Way of righteousness, pray in us, impart God’s holiness to us, and . . . . . . . make us partakers of the divine nature (2 Pe. 1:4).  For as our Father among the saints, St. Athanasius the Great, has said, “God became man so that man might receive the Holy Spirit.”  This is in fulfillment of our Lord’s words when He said that “’the Kingdom of God is within you’” (Lk. 17:21).  The Kingdom of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit is in our midst as the Church, and yet They dwell in the hearts of each baptized believer, transfiguring with Their glory and transforming by Their grace.   Why?  So that we all might be made sons of God bearing witness to His glory unto the ends of the earth (Mt. 28:19-20; Ac. 1:8).  By the grace of God we become vessels full of the Holy Spirit Who, then, pours forth from the depths of our souls as Living Water to water the earth and all who dwell therein.          

Through the prayers of our holy Fathers, O Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us.  Amen.

Glory to Jesus Christ!  Glory forever!


VIGIL PROPERS:                     PROPERS:


Nm. 11:16-17, 24-29                          Ac. 2:1-11

Jl. 2:23-32                                           Jn. 7:37-52; 8:12   

Ek. 36:24-28

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