The Reverend John Smith, Vicar, St. Alban Mission
Sunday, June 4, 2017
Core convictions about the Holy Spirit:
1) The Holy Spirit is love itself and very powerful, like the wind (ruach) in Genesis. You can't see the Holy Spirit itself, but you can see the fruits and effects of the Spirit manifest in people: unity, peace, joy, love, self-control, patience, etc.
2) The Holy Spirit alive in us from Baptism nudges us to do things that we really do not want to do and don't come naturally to us, among them, prayer, study, giving sacrificially, and a desire to share the Good News! It's easy to forego prayer and worship in our busy lives. We like to entertain ourselves more than study or read a holy book. We give what we feel we can "afford" and not set us back very much. We are reticent to share our faith with others, fearing their response or rejection. Responding to the grace of the Holy Spirit within us changes are natural tendency not to grow in these practices. (PS This also goes for others who have other spiritual paths.)
3) The Holy Spirit manifests itself primarily in mercy and forgiveness to those who have wronged us. In today's Gospel, John 20, Jesus forgives his disciples who fled from him when he needed them the most. Instead of scolding them and firing them, Jesus forgives them and gives them the Holy Spirit to go out and forgive others, making forgiveness how we respond to hurt, rather than vengeance. Priest do this through absolution, but every baptized person can forgive others. To carry grudges and not forgive is what Jesus refers to in talking about "retaining" sins. Today in our world there is much retention of forgiveness, like the retention of water in CHF (congestive heart failure) that cuts off the heart's ability to work, so too, retention of sins of others (individuals, groups, or nations, spiritually blocks our hearts from love and forgiveness. The Holy Spirit seeks to unleash the power of forgiveness in each person.
4) The Holy Spirit is the only Source of unity and peace the world seeks. In the reading from Acts 2 of the descent of the Holy Spirit upon people from every language and nation, people hear the Good News of God's love in their own tongue. The "catholic" church is borne. This story reverses the outcome of the Tower of Babel story in Genesis, where, in trying to reach the heavens with a Tower created by human effort alone, without acknowledgement of God, people from the nations find their languages confused. Onlyu by speaking the language of love and forgiveness, a gift of the Holy Spirit, can humankind arrive at unity and peace.
5) The Holy Spirit stands by, supports, and seeks to bring to God, all those made victims and scapegoats by the world in the human efforts to find a semblance of peace. "If we can just get rid of this one or that one, we will have peace." It doesn't work like that. The Holy Spirit is the Paraclete (one called alongside for support) and Advocate for all victims, excluded and marginalized, by the powers of this world.
6) The Holy Spirit comes to people in various ways. For us, the Holy Spirit is given in our Baptism in Christ. We have the Holy Spirit, but often we choose not to respond to the Spirit's urging. The Holy Spirit then lies dormant in us, sometimes for years, but we can ask the Spirit to be renewed in us anytime and start to be more readily attentive to the Holy Spirit's action in our daily lives and realize the fruits of the Spirit. For this reason, on Pentecost Sunday we renew our Baptismal Promises and ask for a fresh sending of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Come, Holy Spirit, come!
Saint Alban Episcopal Mission (English, Anglican Communion) meets for mass every Sunday at 10:00 A.M. (see welcome letter at sidebar) at Casa Convento Concepcion, 4a Calle Oriente No. 41, Antigua, Guatemala.