Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

Being One in the Holy Spirit

In the traditional Christian calendar, this Sunday is Pentecost Sunday. It is the commemoration and celebration of the outpouring and infilling of the Holy Spirit on the church just ten days after the ascension of Jesus. In response to people’s questions, the Apostle Peter quotes an ancient prophecy from Joel 2.

“In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young will see visions. Your elders will dream dreams. Even upon my servants, men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.” (Acts 2:17-18, CEB)

When the Holy Spirit arrived on the day of Pentecost, God was beautifully indiscriminate toward those who would receive this wonderful gift. All were included: young and old, female and male, and those from all walks of life, even to the lowliest servant. The same is true today. It is always my prayer that as we gather we find those ways that the Holy Spirit unites us in love so that we can recognize that God is “over all, through all, and in all.” (Ephesians 4:6, CEB)

Grace and peace,

Embracing Trust

There is a song I’ve been singing in my head a lot lately. It’s called Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) by Hillsong United. If you’re like me, my mind will loop a portion of a song rather than the whole thing. With this song it was the bridge.

rock cairn with ocean backdropOceans (Where Feet May Fail)

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

The first line, “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders,” has shaken and stirred my soul. It’s easy to trust when expectations are clear and the boundaries are visible. I’ve learned, though, that Jesus calls us beyond what is expected and into uncharted territory. The situations or issues will change, but it usually takes place in the realm of relationships. This is also an inside job. Jesus is stretching us to expand the borders of our heart. It’s never easy, but loving our neighbor as ourself rarely is.

Just as Jesus called Peter out of the boat to walk on the waves with him, we can trust the Lord to meet us in the place of uncertainty. Even if we feel ourselves sinking, we will find that his hand is holding us up, and that hand is usually the person to whom we have extended trust.

Grace and peace,

Embracing Presence, Part 2: Thin Places for Thin Times

On a regular basis I hear friends and family comment on how busy and tired they are, and I wholeheartedly lump myself in with them. Those comments, which are not always complaints, remind me of Bilbo Baggins’ remarking to Gandalf in the book The Fellowship of the Ring,
“I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.”

bread and butter

Image courtesy of Paul / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I know not everyone is in this place, but I do know that a lot of us are. It is in such places that we need a sense of God’s presence, but we tell ourselves that due to our tiredness and busy-ness we have failed to draw close to God, and thus don’t deserve the comfort of God’s presence.

I also believe that with Jesus’ giving of the Holy Spirit to the church the kingdom of God is here with us now. In this holds the promise of God’s kingdom breaking in on our daily lives in life-giving and life-changing ways. These can be called holy places, and, if I understand correctly, the Celtic Christian tradition calls these “thin places.”

Jesus started his rabbinical career with the message,
“Now is the time! Here comes God’s kingdom! Change your hearts and lives, and trust this good news!” (Mark 1:14)
It was to a thin time that Jesus made the invitation to break through at the thin place. God’s presence is here now, and as I shared last week, God’s presence is experienced when we make ourselves apparent to God.

“Come to me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Put on my yoke, and learn from me. I’m gentle and humble. And you will find rest for yourselves. My yoke is easy to bear, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Jesus understands thin times. He isn’t looking for us to work our way to God. He is inviting us. The thin times will not always stay thin, but the thin places are as available as our willingness to turn toward God. The hope of the kingdom of God is that as we experience the restorative presence of God, we too will become “thin places” for Christ’s  salvation to break through.

Grace and peace,