Abide In Me as I abide In You (Acts 2.1-21, John 15.26-27; 16.4b-15)
The Holy Spirit can be quite hard to describe, and it’s something that I often find myself thinking about. What exactly is the Holy Spirit and what does it mean for us to have it?
The Holy Spirit has been described as being a little bit like the force from Star Wars, an energy which binds the universe together, that flows in and through all things. Whether this is a good description or not I’m not sure, in fact I could be committing an act of great heresy, I’ll leave that up to you and Ian to decide.
The one thing we do know about the Holy Spirit is that it turns up, in all sorts of unexpected places. It is the creative and spontaneous energy of the trinity, and is one of the forms in which we recognise God’s revelation to us. That is a way in which God reveals God’s self to us.
The Holy Spirit isn’t, for a start, part of God, it is God and it is indivisible from the Father and the Son. We know that the spirit isn’t into partiality, and we know what the fruits of the spirit are; love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, as St Paul describes in Galatians 5.
When something doesn’t violate these characteristics, these principles then it is of God.
Where the Holy Spirit and ‘The Force’ seem to be different is that ‘The Force’ is a more neutral faceless entity, that drifts through the universe seeking a balance between Good and Evil. It’s neutral. A bit like a ghost that tries to keep the conscience of the universe intact.
The Holy Spirit on the other hand is directly involved in creation. It is directly involved in our lives, and seeks us out, that we might come to know God more, and be more and more in relationship with God and God’s purposes, which are only good. To help us be caught up in the love that God has for all creation and all people. That’s not neutral.
It isn’t like a ghost, despite what the prayer book says, a sort of ethereal thing that floats around a bit, and isn’t actually that involved, can’t really react with anything, the holy spirit anoints us for action.
The Holy Spirit is a force that binds the universe together, but it binds it through the love of God through which the universe was created. We as Christians believe that every human being is created for the purpose of loving God and loving each other. The whole of creation was the result of the overflowing love and creativeness of God, a universe united in praise of that which made it.
The Spirit calls us to unity, and we get a sense of that unity in the Epistle reading we had this morning. AS the Holy Spirit descends on the disciples of Jesus it gives them the ability to speak in the languages of all those there.
It calls everyone into relationship with God, whether they aare Egypitian, Mesopotamian or even Welsh, everyone has the ability and right to be included and involved in the loving purposes of God.
The Spirit anoints us for action, it is present with us in our baptism, and throughout our lives. It’s the presence of Jesus that lives on through all generations.
It is possible for us to turn away from those loving purposes, one need only look at the events in the news this week, the terrible events in Israel/Palestine for example.
Like in all things we are given a choice with God, God loves us so much he doesn’t force us into relationship with Him, that would be abuse. God has made sure that we’re not left alone.
Jesus makes that clear in our gospel reading today. We have been left the Holy Spirit. Loving Jesus brings an advocate, the Holy Spirit, who abides in those who know him. We’re not on our own, despite how abandoned we might feel, the Holy Spirit is with us, abiding in and through and with us. Jesus ties up his death and resurrection with the Holy Spirit “In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live you also will live.”
That for me is what Pentecost is all about, not some kind of magical thing that happened to the church and to the disciples, in a distant long ago Epoch that none of us truly understands.
Our advocate and comforter was present with us in our move over to Chantry Hall, it’s not confined to a building, but moves in and through and with us, guiding us when we listen. Now we have a new vision and a renewed building, it’s time for us to claim this patch of the world for God, not for us, but for God.
God is always with us. The Holy Spirit is the breath of God, the comforting presence of Jesus Christ. The one that anoints us to be Christ’s hands in the world. Tied up in the great mystery of the trinity is the love that binds the entire universe together.
And we are a part of that great work. When we love each other, and love Jesus we are fulfilling the spirit’s work and guidance within every one of us. We each have a part to play in the work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit teaches us, inspires us and perhaps leads us into spontaneous and unexpected places.
This Pentecost, let’s seek to know the Holy Spirit’s action in our lives more, and value it not as a wispy vague force of God, but as the very essence of God’s action in and with and through us.
My prayer is that we all feel and know God’s holy Spirit’s call on our lives.
Preached at 8am Service 20th May 2018
St Peter Mancroft Church