Philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer identified three stages of truth.
In stage one, truth is ridiculed.
In stage two, it is opposed.
In stage three, truth is accepted as being self-evident.
So when the promised Spirit of Truth arrives, there is immediately mockery.
Others sneered and said, "They are filled with new wine."
Peter refutes this by noting that it is only nine a.m., before the discovery of time zones and the
truth that "it's five o'clock somewhere."
No, Peter says, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:
in the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams.
Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and
they shall prophesy.
Which means that it's not the disciples who are wasted.
It's the Spirit.
At Pentecost, the Spirit of God is wasted on the wrong people.
When the elders in the family are the ones who have authority to speak the truth, which is
to say prophesy, why squander the gift of truth be squandered on the young?
Young men should not be entrusted with visions—anyone remember the sixties?—because they
do not yet have the social credibility to allow those visions to make a difference.
It is also unwise to have old men dreaming dreams, because while prophecy is really about
seeing the present clearly (not foretelling the future, but naming the eventual implications
of continuing a present course), biblical dreams deal in the future, which old men won't
be around as long to see.
And why give prophetic truth to people with no voice—to slaves, to women, to people to whom
no one in the biblical world had to listen, people who cannot give legal testimony?
The Holy Spirit is wasted, poured out on those who have no voice, poured out on simple Galileans to make them speak in languages they did not know, poured out on disciples
who spend so much of the gospels bickering or failing or hiding.
The Holy Spirit is wasted on the wrong people, so that everyone who calls upon the name of the
Lord will be saved.
This fall, because of elections this spring, at least one third of the bishops in our ELCA will be
women, because Pentecost is not done.
There will no doubt be plenty of righteous internet screeds of certain Lutherans who don't even
ordain women because truth is first ridiculed, then opposed, which is basically a
summary of the whole book of Acts.
That's why Jesus describes the coming Spirit to his disciples in advance this way:
This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive ...
(the world being wired for with false fronts and fake news)
the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and
remind you of all I have said to you...
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.
It's not an instantaneous process: truth is too much, too deep, too pure, too wonderful,
too wide, too astonishing for us to access and accept immediately.
There is enough of the world in us to question, mock, reject and oppose the truth when it doesn't
align with our current certainties.
So the Spirit of truth comes to teach and guide and shepherd us there, and it begins with voices
to the voiceless and languages to the unlearned and the beautiful chaos of minds blown
open by new realities assumed to be impossible.
It begins by toppling the barriers in our minds and hearts and faith and imagination, because the
wind can't go through walls, but it can knock them over to blow free.
This freedom is necessary because the Spirit has plans.
The Spirit needs to get us from here to there, wherever that is, because God is leading us
into a future beyond what we can imagine.
The Spirit of truth and prophecy—what is real today—is also our pilot and tour guide into
Elsewhere in Scripture, in Ephesians, we learn this about this Spirit:
you...were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge our
inheritance toward redemption as God's own people, to the praise of his glory.
The Spirit is a pledge, a down payment on the future God has in mind for us.
It is today's lavish advance on tomorrow's mind-blowing promise.
The Spirit is the fancy engagement ring that tells us God is serious.
Of course, this frees and energizes us to keep moving forward with real hope.
That is why Pentecost is the perfect day for a special congregational meeting.
Today is the perfect day to commit together to Shepherd of Tomorrow.
God has a future in mind for us and for our wider community, so we better get ready.
This means solar panels, which will help care for our endangered home the earth as well
as save us hundreds of thousands of dollars in the years to come.
This means upgrading our sound system, because truth comes to us through our ears.
This means upgrading our lighting system, because there are also visual ways to
share and receive the gospel.
This means funding our ministries sufficiently now so that today's seeds are positioned for
successful growth tomorrow.
This means offerings to camping and campus ministries, the two most reliable pipelines for
future church leaders, because the whole church will need shepherds of tomorrow.
This is our pledge, our down payment on God's future, our little yes to the God who has spoken
such an enormous yes to us.
Unless we vote no, which you're welcome to do.
Either way the Spirit will keep blowing and keep guiding us into all truth, and no doubt
surprise and shock and offend and annoy and delight and inspire and confuse and
astonish us along the way.
Because God has looked at you in the waters of baptism through the eyes of Christ.
And God voted yes.