The Coming of the Spirit
I had a friend at school whose favourite t-shirt had a cartoon on the front. It was a child trying to get into a school. The child was pushing with all his weight on the door, a door which had a clear sign, just above his head which said ‘Pull’. Beside the entrance of the school was the school sign describing it as ‘School for the Gifted’.
Sometimes being good at something can make it easy to become complacent. Like the naturally skilled footballer who never tries because it comes so easy. The problem is, of course, that if we get too comfortable we don’t make the effort and we never reach our potential.
This morning’s service started with us, joining with the disciples, again locked away and afraid. Suddenly a violent wind which we are told fills the entire house emerges. And divided tongues as of fire appear among them. Suddenly the disciples are given the gift of speaking. Peter stands in front of the crowd and the one who was always getting mixed up, the one who was so enthusiastic to see Jesus days before, he stripped off and threw himself into the sea, even thou the boat was nearly at the shore. The one who only hours after rejecting the idea that he would deny Christ, denies him three times. And now that he has received the gift of the Holy Spirit. Peter is the one who stands up in front of a crowd of people from all over the known world to speak. And in the way Jesus did time after time, Peter opens the scriptures and begins to teach and to prophesy, that God will pour out his spirit on all flesh.
Jesus quotes from scripture in today’s Gospel. He quotes a prophesy that rivers of living water will flow from the hearts of those who believe. These rivers of living water are immediately linked to the Holy Spirit by the Gospel writer. Flowing from our hearts, like the love of God, flowing out into the communities we serve.
In these two passages we have the Spirit described as Fire, Wind and Water. Each is full of energy and life. Each is made up of things which are essential for our survival; warmth, air and water. But each is also wonderfully uncontrollable, each has the ability to overwhelm and destroy us, each deserves a respect. When we come to the prayers, instead of saying: ’Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.’ we will be saying: ‘Lord come and bless us and fill us with your spirit.’ But it’s worth being mindful of what we are asking, the Holy Spirit is no easy company.
Yes, the Spirit is described as the comforter, but that’s not to say it is there to make us comfortable. Because with the gifts of the Spirit comes a calling to use them – a calling to allow that Spirit to flow out from us into world around us in the way we use the gifts we’ve been given to show that same love to the world. A radical love which can overturn the powers and structures which would undermine the dignity of God’s creation. A spirit which can transform our frail world into the glorious kingdom of God.
The Reverend Robin Sims-Williams
8.00am Morning Prayer in the lady chapel
10.00am Parish Eucharist with choir and Sunday School
Christian Meditation Wednesdays at 9.10am
Said Eucharist on Wednesdays at 11.00am
Monday through Thursday at 5.30pm
Please note that Public worship has been suspended, you can therefore participate in these services via Facebook live stream
Eating together is important for us all, for our families and our friends, it is over a meal where we have the time to listen to each other and it is over food that we find a common need to nourish ourselves.
There are certain moments in one’s life where one feels close to God – like Christ has come near – moments of beauty or of peace or of joy.
I found this box on a shelf. It’s a bit old, you can tell it’s been around for a while, it’s been bumped here and scratched there. It’s not easy to open. But it’s also clearly precious, with golden inlay. And it smells nice.
Where it made sense we needed to emulate others who we saw were good at what they did, and who did things we wanted to do.