Lenten Devotional: March 13th
I believe in the Holy Spirit
Listen, the Holy Spirit is confusing. Many people in the church like to talk about the Holy Spirit as they make a knowing smile and nod and say things like, "the spirit is at work." We don't usually talk about the specifics of the Holy Spirit, which is how, hypothetically, you end up say, in your second year of seminary blurting out to your teacher, "I don't know what the Holy Spirit does!"
All that to say... if this is confusing, you don't have to fake it.
The Holy Spirit is a mystery. But Christians believe that it is a co-equal member of the trinity. Meaning, Jesus is not more important than the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit is also God. We call the spirit "a person" and it's one who can be known, who affects us, relates to us in our day to day living.
When we say the Bible is the "word of God" we mean that the authors of the Bible were moved by the Holy Spirit to write it. We always pray before we read scripture in a worship service. This prayer is called a "prayer of illumination." When we read scripture we want the Holy Spirit with us, "illuminating" the passage and making it clear to us. When you (and I do specifically mean you) read the Bible and interpret it, that's the Holy Spirit moving in you. If you ever feel really close to your Creator, if you are sitting in Sunday School and the whole Jesus finally starts making sense and you feel drawn to Christ, that is the Holy Spirit. A good rule of thumb is this: if something is moving on Earth today, it is the Holy Spirit.
When we speak about your spiritual gifts, they come from the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit makes the sacraments come alive. It is how God is present at baptism, and how we experience the real presence of Jesus with the Bread and Cup.
John 14: 15-27 says:
'If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.
'I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.' Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, 'Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?' Jesus answered him, 'Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.
'I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid."
The Spirit is with you. The Spirit is moving around you and inspiring you to do God's work. One of the things we really should focus on during the Lenten Season is, "are we listening to the Spirit?" Not to say you're actively ignoring God, but we all get busy and let the chaos in our lives drown out God's voice.
So friends, really take some time today. Read a scripture verse. Pray. Just sit and think about what God is doing in you.
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and move us to work. May we be surprised by your glory all the days of our lives. Amen.
Rev. Kelly Staples, Associate Pastor, NorthPark Presbyterian Church