Embracing the Spirit

Scripture: Acts 2:1-21

Let us pray:

We believe, Lord, that you are here, present. Although our eyes do not see you, our faith senses you. Take any stray thoughts from our minds. Enable us to understand the truths you would desire to teach us in this meditation. Empower us to put them into practice. Your servants are listening; speak, Lord, to our souls… Amen.

Have you ever wondered what it would have been like to have been there in the upper room? The sound of the wind; tongues of fire appearing before your eyes and resting upon each head. A religious experience so ecstatic as to verge on Holy Terror – yet amazing at the same time that God could be seen and felt in such a tangible and real way? Often I have longed to know, to be affirmed in my belief that the Holy Spirit still blows through a world still in need of her caress.

Perhaps in your experience, you have felt and understood the Holy Spirit in other more subtle ways. The nodding of a wildflower, the explosion of taste of a ripe wild strawberry. The stray glance of a wolf’s eyes watching from not too far away, the ebb and flow of the ocean’s tide. Once in a great while I sometimes think I sense the Ruach of God stirring my soul like the breath of the wind. But I rely on our Scriptures to remind me of what it must have been like the first time, and of what, potentially, it can still be.   So who or what is the Ruach Elohim, or Holy Spirit … to us? The Nicene Creed reminds all Christians that :

“We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets.” (p34, Glory to God Hymnal)

Last year I mentioned one author who wrote the Holy Spirit plays such a prominent role in the book of Acts that it ought to be titled the Acts of the Holy Spirit instead of the Acts of the Disciples[1]. Reading through the entire Luke-Acts account, we find the Holy Spirit is woven instrumentally through it all.

The Holy Spirit begins each section of Luke’s Gospel. For Luke the heart of the Church is mission, and at the heart of mission is the movement of the Spirit for the increase of the Word. Reviewing the work of the Holy Spirit, recall that it appears and affects our Biblical characters in different ways.

When Jesus is conceived by the Holy Spirit and Mary makes her rounds, Mary, Elizabeth, Zechariah, John, and Simeon are each filled with prophecy. The Spirit descends in a bodily dove-like form at Jesus’ baptism and leads him in and out of the desert. The Spirit is present at the beginning of the public ministry of Jesus when Luke has Jesus read from the scroll of Isaiah at Nazareth:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me

to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18).

The Spirit again figures prominently when Jesus “sets his face” to go to Jerusalem (Luke 10:21; 11:13; 12:10, 12). Finally Jesus dispenses the Holy Spirit as his replacement to the Church in Luke 24:49.[2]

Acts picks up that story; Jesus said, “John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:5). When that day arrives, which we commemorate today, the Holy Spirit appeared as tongues of fire resting above the heads of the disciples.

What is baptism but a rebirth? We let the old life go and, like Christ, die if you will, claiming a new life in Christ when we pass through the waters of baptism. How much more, then, would a baptism by the Holy Spirit be? Is it a letting go of our own selfish will for our lives and letting God rule if we allow ourselves to be baptized by the Holy Spirit?

Jesus said, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) What, O Christ, would you empower us to do or be? Speak, O Lord, for again, your servants are listening.

Jesus says, “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) If witnessing for Christ is nothing more and nothing less than living out a realized Reign of God on Earth, how might we encourage a religious life different from a badge we see some wear on socio-political sleeves? How might we passionately embrace a spiritual life-style embodied with every living breath we take?

Ah, Holy Spirit! Baptize us with your presence; engender in us your own holy will once more. Reconcile us – one with another – and with all creation. Pour out your Spirit on all flesh, that we may be recipients of it. Lord, you have said: “All things can be done for the one who believes.” (Mark 9:23) and, “with God, all things are possible.” (Mark 10:27) Lord, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)

Let us pray:

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in us the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and we shall be created, and you shall renew the face of the earth. O God, who by the light of the same Holy Spirit instructs the hearts of the faithful, grant that we may be truly wise; truly loving, truly your servants in the world; in the name of the One who lived, died, and rose again for us, even Him who is the Christ. Amen? May it be so.

[1] Seán Kealy, C.S.Sp., Professor of Scripture, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA-Eerdmans Dictionary,

[2] Ibid.

Questions for Reflection

What gi of yours, of your family, and of your community has the Holy Spirit especially nurtured in recent times? How might that gi be expressed and used in a new way in the coming year?

Household Prayer: Morning

Gracious God,
we thank you for the peace of good sleep
and for keeping us safe throughout the night.
Let this new day be a time of praise and joy
as we go out to meet you in our sisters and brothers. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Household Prayer: Evening

Merciful Lord, as night comes to this house,
we thank you for the challenges and accomplishments of this day. Give our hearts and minds the comfort now to rest in your care, trusting that whatever tomorrow brings,
your hand will be ready to catch us if we fall. Amen.

About Scottrick

Parent ~ Pastor ~ Poet ~ Author
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