[28MAY2012] Pentecost: The Day After
Remember, O Lord, what you have wrought in us and not what we deserve; and, as you have called us to your service, make us worthy of our calling; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reign with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen
“God chose us as the first fruits for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. Then let us stand firm and hold fast to the traditions we were taught.” In goodness and loving kindness, you save us, not because of anything we have done, but in mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. This Spirit you pour out on us richly, O God, through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Amen.
I continue to meditate upon the gift and outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Reading again today from the Book of Acts, these following words stood out to me:
Peter’s words pierced their hearts: and they said to him and the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is to you and to your children, and even to the Gentiles—all who have been called by the Lord our God.” (Acts 2:37-39)
These words from Peter seem to reinforce some of the thoughts I was sharing from the last couple of posts (here and here) regarding the infilling of the Holy Spirit. While it may be a “no-brainer” to assume repentance and following Christ are prerequisite for being filled with the Person of the Holy Spirit, I think many people in the realm of “contemporary believer world” take this for granted. Conversations that I have shared with people lead me to believe that a great number of folks completely disregard the working of the Holy Spirit entirely (as though it is an optional path of Christian enlightenment). Others disregard or outright reject the ministry and infilling of the Holy Spirit because of various outlandish claims and antics coming from some our extremist charismatic brothers and sisters of the faith. Still, there are others, who profess to embrace and even make claim to being filled with the Holy Spirit, but show little outward evidence to support they are being guided and comforted and counseled by this Spirit of the Living God who lives in them.
Peter’s words are a haunting echo in these perilous and post-modern days we live in. Political correctness, and cultural tolerances have creeped into our churches and into our doctrine… perhaps not in a written or “book of discipline” form, but the ways and means of our societal world has grafted itself to the DNA of our faith communities nonetheless. This isn’t necessarily anything new; it has happened in the life of the church over and over again throughout the days of man…even dating back throughout the history of ancient Israel well before the coming of Jesus and the birth of the Church. What do we do about this? Do we purge and scourge? I don’t think that is the answer; nor do I think adapting exclusivist or legalistic attitudes helpful either. I do think taking Jesus at his word and recognizing the wisdom of the elders of our faith who have walked before us can be helpful. Holiness is the command and demand of our God. If we want this God to inhabit us as individuals and us as a corporate body, it is incumbent that we follow his commands. Peter makes this abundantly clear in his words from the Book of Acts as he speaks words of exhortation to his kinsmen.
Moses said, “The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from among your own people. Listen carefully to everything he tells you.” Then Moses said, “Anyone who will not listen to that Prophet will be completely cut off from God’s people.” (Acts 3:22)
We cannot afford to “pick and choose” the teachings of Jesus we want to follow or model our lives after. We are admonished to “listen carefully to everything he tells you.” If we fail to follow the teaching and lifestyle Jesus instructed us to live, how can we expect to have our communities and our own lives filled with his power and Spirit? The last words of Jesus to his followers was for them not to depart Jerusalem until they were filled with the Holy Spirit. Can we afford to be so cavalier about the importance of this instruction to our own Christian experience? I think not.
Veni, creator Spiritus
O come, Creator, Spirit blessed, within our souls be now our guest, And let our hearts become your shrine; Come, fill us with your grace divine.
We call on you as Paraclete, We ask your help as Advocate, Eternal source of life and love, The fiery gift from God above.
O Spirit, power of God’s right hand, Give us your gifts to understand; With grace enrich our tongues and speech, that we your life and love may teach.
O Spirit, guide our darkened mind, Our hearts with love close to you bind; Give strength to our poor weakened will, A love for holy life instill.
Drive off our evil foes we pray, Grant us your grace to guide our way, That we be victors in the strife, By walking in your way of life. Amen.