In preparing for Jacob Cook’s Confirmation this month, our Confirmation class began to look for the way that the Holy Spirit shows up in the New Testament, especially in the Gospel of Luke and in the Acts of the Apostles’. Wow! They were references everywhere! The Angel comes to Zechariah and tells him that he can expect a son who will be filled with the Holy Spirit; Elizabeth welcomes Mary and is filled with the Holy Spirit to recognize that she is the “mother of my Lord;” Simeon and Anna are led by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the arrival of God’s Messiah as Jesus is presented at the temple. John the Baptizer is filled with the Holy Spirit in his preaching, and the Holy Spirit descends on Jesus at this baptism, then leads him out into the wilderness to meet the Devil. In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus tells his followers to “make disciples of all nations” baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. At the beginning of the book of Acts, Jesus says his disciples will be baptized with the Holy Spirit, and then the Spirit comes with wind and fire, leading them out into the streets to speak God’s Good News in every language. Gentile Pagans receive the Holy Spirit when they are baptized by Peter and Paul, and some even received the Spirit first and then are baptized with water.
Our theology is so focused on what Jesus has done for us in his death and the new life that God has created for us in Jesus’ resurrection, that we often forget that Jesus’ continuing presence with us IS the Holy Spirit. It’s the Spirit that reassures us of God’s love for us when we feel abandoned and face disaster, and the Spirit that brings us the promises of hope and healing when we have no where else to turn. The Spirit shows up when we comfort one another with hugs and prayers, and tugs at our hearts to send us to someone who needs our compassionate care. It is the Spirit that lifts our hearts in worship and fills us with the love of God when we taste that bread and wine. It is the Spirit of Jesus that brings us to faith and grows our trust in God step by step in our Christian life. And it is God’s Spirit that rejoices in us and with us when we see the blossoms open in the Spring, witness an awesome sunset, touch the fingers of a newborn infant.
Pentecost is coming this month, and we will celebrate the spectacular arrival of the Holy Spirit in the first Holy Christian Church. And our own child Jacob Cook will be Confirmed into his adult role in our community by the affirmation of his baptismal vows. The Apostle Paul told the Galatian church that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. We are a changed people, sent to live God’s love in this chaotic and weary world. The birth of the Holy Christian Church did not just happen 2000 years ago in that upper room where the first disciples were gathered. That birth happens every time the Spirit touches a heart, deepens a faith, encourages prayer, leads someone to lend a hand and tell the story of their trust in God. Welcome to the new life that is won for you in Jesus, and the fullness of life opened for you in the Holy Spirit.
In God’s unfailing love.