This weekend is Pentecost - the spring harvest festival of the Israelites. It was also the day on which the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples of Jesus shortly after He ascended to heaven.
Thus, in the Christian Church on Pentecost Sunday, there is a lot of focus on the Holy Spirit. If you worship with us online this weekend, you'll hear songs with lyrics like "O Spirit of the living God, thou light and fire divine, descend upon thy church once more and make it truly thine..." and "Holy Spirit, You are welcome here. Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere."
Jesus promised that after he left the Father would send an advocate to help us and be with us forever - the Spirit of truth (John 14:15-17). The United Methodist Members' Handbook puts it like this: "The Holy Spirit is God's present activity in our midst. When we sense God's leading, God's challenge, or God's support or comfort, we say that it's the Holy Spirit at work."
We believe that the Holy Spirit is present in each believer. A thought occurred to me: Wouldn't it be great if a person literally glowed when the Spirit was within them? Even better - what if a person glowed with more or less intensity depending on their level of in-tuneness with the Spirit. (I made that word up.) The more a person listened to the Holy Spirit and abided by the Holy Spirit, the brighter that person would be.
I can see that being useful in a variety of circumstances! First of all, we'd never hire a pastor who only had a dim - or no - glow. We would only trust those with the brightest glow. We'd be able to quickly spot kindred spirits in the strangers we pass by. When non-glowing coworkers acted rudely, we'd more easily excuse them because we'd remember they had not yet fully experienced the love of God.
And, of course, that glow might be something that attracted people who didn't know Jesus and didn't have a glow to investigate what was so special about Christians. Something that identified us so obviously and so beautifully would be great to have!
But wait ... those with the Spirit do have identifiers. Scripture tells us that people who abide by the Spirit have the gifts of the Spirit and the fruit of the Spirit. They have love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. We can't know those things about the random people we pass in the street, but it usually isn't too hard to see those things in the people we interact with.
Another one of those identifiers is generosity. The first followers of Jesus who received the Holy Spirit and began to share the gospel ended up being extremely generous. Acts 2:45 says, "They would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds
to all, as any had need." I look forward to hearing more about this important Spirit-filled characteristic and others, in this Sunday's messages - given at 8:30am by David and at 11am by Jason.
I hope you join with us on Pentecost Sunday for worship, for the Birthday Drive-By party, and for a weekend of gratitude to the God who gives us His Spirit.