Monday, June 6, 2022

Sermon for Pentecost Sunday, June 5, 2022

'For people of Northern climates, the story of Jesus

as experienced in the liturgical year

is mirrored so perfectly in the coming forth of light from darkness

over the six months from December to June

that it seems that Nature herself echoes the Gospel story

proclaimed in Scripture and hymn and sermon.'

The Day of Pentecost

June 5, 2022

The Rev. Maurice C. Frontz III

St Stephen Lutheran Church


It’s the bright, long and temperate Scandinavian summer

that is so beautifully depicted in our Hymn of the Day –

written by Nikolai Grundtvig,  a Danish pastor and hymn-writer.

For the Nordic nations, that are for so much of the year

in the grip of cold and darkness,

the coming of summer must be a revelation.

We who sing the hymn are about to be put into a world

of dawning days, singing birds, flowing brooks,

fields and trees bejeweled with emerald green.

In the adaption of O Day Full of Grace in the Lutheran Book of Worship,

most of the nature-language has been omitted

in favor of a slightly more prosaic telling of the story of salvation.

But for the Danes, at least, the story of Pentecost can’t be told

without the fields and the birds and the brooks.

For people of Northern climates, the story of Jesus

as experienced in the liturgical year

is mirrored so perfectly in the coming forth of light from darkness

over the six months from December to June

that it seems that Nature herself echoes the Gospel story

proclaimed in Scripture and hymn and sermon.  


Christians of the North, whether in America or in Europe,

tell the story of Jesus’ birth into the world

at the coldest, darkest time of the year.

They tell the story of the death and resurrection of Jesus

when the flowers, so long dormant, begin to sprout from the earth.

And Pentecost, the part of the story

when Jesus, having victoriously finished his work on earth,

sends the Holy Spirit to the Church,

is told at the time when winter seems a distant dream

and all is teeming with life –

the sun seems hardly to leave us alone.

The frozen rivers have thawed and the shining waters flow to the sea.

The birds sing, the crops grow, the flowers bloom,

and if we pay attention,

if we look carefully,

there is a new gift to be found each day, each hour, each minute.

It seems as if we are back in the garden of Paradise.

This is the time we’ve been brought to –

the time of life and growth, the time of gift,

of singing birds and flowing brooks and light in abundance.

God sends forth his Spirit, and renews the face of the earth.

and Christians must always remember and rejoice

in what time they inhabit.

Our entire lives have been lived in the time of the Spirit.

Pentecost is not just the time of the Church year we’re in,

but it’s our spiritual reality.

It is 2022 Anno domini, the year of our Lord.

We are not like those prophets who sat in exile

waiting for God to redeem his people.

In Jesus Christ God has acted once for all

to defeat sin, death and the evil one.

He has triumphed over the powers of darkness.

He has given his Spirit to the Church.

We are children of light in a world full of light.


I’ve moved the little family altar to the screened-in porch

to do the prayer service webcasts,

and even when I’m not live-streaming,

that’s where I recite the daily prayer offices.

So it’s two Wednesday mornings ago,

and the sun is rising, the light slanting through the trees,

and the birds are chirping (or cawing)

and somewhere I’m sure there’s a brook babbling.

The psalms and hymns and lessons are all about victory over evil

and Jesus rising from the grave

and I’m out there on my porch singing away

and I remember it’s the day after 19 little kids and two teachers

were shot to death in a small city in Texas.


And I’m thinking,

How is it possible to sing about joy and peace and love

on a day like this in a world like this?

But, you see, if we don’t sing at all times

about what we believe to be true,

if we decide to let the evil one

appoint the psalms and lessons and prayers for each day,

expressions of impotent rage or abject despair.

We’ll have no message of comfort to give to those who grieve a child –

  just our doubts and angers and hatreds.

We’ll have nothing to say to those who ask questions

about the presence of God in the world.

We’ll have no word of challenge, or no word of hope,

to give to those who are blind to God’s light.

And we’ll lose even the faith and hope we have,

if we don’t believe that the Spirit’s story is the true story,

and sing the song of summer light

even in the face of the darkness.


We Christians cannot become so consumed with anger or despair

over the latest injustice or violence or outrage

that we forget our story,

our summer-Spirit-story of light and life and growth in Christ.

It is not night.

It is day, unless we will not see it,

and if we will not see the light, and walk in the light,

and rejoice in the light,

we cannot guide anyone else to the light should that fall to us.


Not next week, but the next, the week after Trinity -

we’ll break out the boring old green paraments to put on the altar

and I’ll have to wear those boring old green vestments again

until Reformation Day –

but are they really boring after all?

No – when we come to church and see the green

we will be put in mind that the same Spirit

which hovered over the waters at creation

to produce a world capable of harboring life

now is busily at work in the Church

to produce in human beings

the good and the beautiful fruits of righteousness.

O God, send forth your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth,

the face of the Church, the faith and hope and love of your holy ones

to live the life of your Son until he is revealed.


1.   WHYMN OF THE DAY                                  O Day Full of Grace


Tune: DEN SIGNEDE DAG, Christopher E.F. Weyse, 1774-1842

Stanzas 3, 5: Settings for choir by J.M. Strobel

Text: Nikolai F.S. Grundtvig, 1783-1872, tr. Carl Døving


O day full of grace, which we behold

Now gently to view ascending;

Thou over the earth thy reign unfold

Good cheer to all mortals lending

That children of light in every clime

May prove that the night is ending.


How blest was that gracious midnight hour

When God in our flesh was given;

Then flushéd the dawn with light and power,

That spread o’er the darkened heaven;

Then rose o’er the world that Sun divine

Which gloom from our hearts had driven.   


3.        Yea, were every tree endowed with speech,

And every leaflet singing,

They never with praise His worth could reach,

Though earth with their praise were ringing.

Who fully could praise the Light of life,

Who light to our souls is bringing?


4.       As birds in the morning sing God's praise,

His fatherly love we cherish,

For giving to us this day of grace,

For life that shall never perish.

His Church He hath kept two thousand years

And hungering souls did nourish.



5.       Now softly the light of Pentecost

Is shining its beams around us,

God’s blessings for us cannot be lost,

As brooks in the fields surround us.

And leave in their wake the woods and fields,

The bright summer green astounds us.


6.       With joy we depart for our fatherland,

Where God our Father is dwelling,

Where ready for us His mansions stand,

Where heaven with praise is swelling;

And there we shall walk in endless light,

With blest ones His praise forth telling.