On Sunday we will celebrate Pentecost. Traditionally Pentecost has been seen as the birth-day of the church and to celebrate this momentous event we wear red to signify passion, life, fire and spirit. Sometimes, though, I look around and wonder where has it gone – that spirit, that passion, that fire, that life? What have we done with it? It’s like the Church (and I don’t just mean the church here in Jefferson City, but the Church universal) has frozen, we are safe and predictable, cocooned in a welter of dogmatic assertions about God, Jesus and the Spirit and who we should be individually and as church. We seem to have forgotten our purpose as the people of God.
Pentecost reminds us of God’s reckless generosity in wanting to reside in our lives as well as in heaven, and to how we might continue to grow in the Spirit. And I have to wonder, what does it mean to be people who are filled with God’s Spirit?
There is a line in Mary Oliver’s poem, The Summer Day that goes “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”. I love that phrase which words that question of purpose in a slightly different way. How can I, how can you, how can we, make a difference? How do we recapture the fervor, the passion, the energy, the joy and the real active faith of the first disciples? How can we be people who are filled with God’s Holy Spirit?
Here’s what I’ve come to realize – I think people who are filled with God’s spirit are people who… TAKE RISKS. Comfort , predictability, routine and tradition can so often be the enemy of insight. If we seriously believe that God took risks being born among us, that tells us something about the value of certain risks in the great adventure of faith and of living. God calls us to step out of our boxes and comfort zones, to try something new, to be challenged. So be sure to see visions, dream dreams, and to entertain the possibility that the Holy Spirit is never far away and is always at work here and now.
Secondly, I think that people who are filled with God’s spirit are people who do all they can to HEAL HURTS. So, seek to make repairs where you have hurt others, and make it a priority not to nurse your own hurts because they get in the way of the wonderful things God has for you. We are called to heal hurts both in our personal lives and in all of God’s creation.
Third, people who are filled with God’s spirit MAKE ROOM: Strive for simplicity of heart and of lifestyle; clear out disabling fears, pride, all the things we were taught to regard as deadly sins; create the clutter-free spaciousness in your interior life that those tedious make-over TV shows commend for your living rooms.
Lastly, and arguably most importantly, People who are filled with God’s spirit, PRACTICE LOVE. Think how you can love the people you already love, more; and how you can love others, including yourself and those who you find absolutely unlovable, as though the practice of love only increases and never depletes itself.
So as move towards the end of this Easter season and celebrate the appearance of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost – “What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” How can you live as someone who is filled with God’s Spirit?