The Spirit and the Church
It was more than 200 years ago that the great French philosopher and social critic, Voltaire, said that it would not be more than 100 years before Christianity would vanish from the face of the earth. Well, guess what, Voltaire? We are still here, alive and well in the world, and certainly here at St. Martin's.
What was the reason for this? (John 14:15
21) Jesus said, “
If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate (the Holy Spirit) to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth that abides with you and will be in you... I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you.
” Voltaire did not understand the power of the third part of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit that Christians receive at baptism and reaffirm at confirmation. The Spirit is the mode of God's creative power. He is the breath which brought life into the formless chaos in the beginning of all things (Gen.:1
2) and continues to be with us today.
What difference does this make? He empowers us to keep the Lord’s commandments and follow in His way. He cultivates in us His fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22
23). As we bear these fruits of the Spirit, we are given the ability to change lives and history, even in difficult times like ours.
Cardinal Leo Joseph Suenens in his book,
A New Pentecost,
points out, “
To those who at this moment are distressed because they cannot recognize in the confusion and the changes of today the church of their childhood, or even the church of yesterday well then a new message. The Spirit is still at work and is our living hope for the future.
Since the time of Voltaire, we have survived revolutions, two World Wars, flu epidemics and much more. So Christians, be of good cheer and have hope. The church will survive and continue to be a vigorous power for good in the world. Why? Because the Holy Spirit is and always will be present. It is certainly alive and active through its members here at St. Martin's.
This is a message reiterated by many saints throughout history: St. Martin, St. Francis, St. Dominic, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Ignatius, St. Theresa of Avila, St. Theresa of Calcutta, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and many more. Truly, the Spirit
and the church filled with Him
is here and here to stay. Amen.
The Rev. Nicolas (Nick) R.D. Dyke