"Spirit of…" - Rev. Tony Romaine – 05/23/2021
The theologian Walter Kasper once said, “When the Spirit comes after Jesus' resurrection and exaltation, it is the fulfillment of the message of Jesus and salvation, as the Spirit is the way in which God is present in the world.” The way in which God is present in our world…hear those words and let them sink into your heart. The Holy Spirit, the breath of God, ruach Elohim, our Advocate, our Helper, God present in our world. Sit with that for just a moment and invite the Holy Spirit into your world.
I make a big point of this, not just because it is Pentecost, but because we need to hear this more, that God is here in our world with us. On that Pentecost over two-thousand years ago, the Holy Spirit which was promised to us by Jesus came upon the disciples and forever changed their lives and ours. Yes, it was awesome and amazing that the Holy Spirit spoke in and through the disciples in various languages and filled them with the power to go and share the Good news with people all over the known world, but even more amazing is what the Holy Spirit coming meant to Christians.
Remember, not too long before this, 50 days give or take, Jesus died and was resurrected. Even more recently Jesus had ascended into heaven. So, the disciples were without God, without Jesus, and in that moment of waiting as Jesus had told them to do, the promise came through and Our Helper came. God coming present in our world once more, the Holy Spirit came to set the world straight about righteousness, about judgment, about sin, about power, about all the things we think we control in our world.
The Holy Spirit came to remind us that we know the Truth of what Jesus taught, that we are to forgive as we were forgiven and love as we are loved. The Holy Spirit came to intercede on our behalf, in the wonderful words of Paul’s letter to the Romans, “with sighs too deep for words.” The Holy Spirit came to be the ever-strengthening arm of God that lifts us out of our muck and mire so that we can once again live into the call God has placed on our hearts. And the Holy Spirit came to remind us that God is with us!
Theologian Thomas Aquinas reminds us that through the Spirit, humanity is one with God and God is one with humanity and that the Holy Spirit has used the church to prepare the way to receive the gift of the Spirit, eternal life, and salvation. God is here with us and we are with God; united in and through the Holy Spirit and gifted with talents for our church and world. But how to do we know our gifts? How do we know God is with us?
In the UCC we say that God is Still Speaking. The way that God is still speaking to us is through the Holy Spirit. The way that God can affect change in our world without stepping all over the created free-will God has granted us is to direct us via the Holy Spirit. And the way that we trust God is we stop and listen for the Spirit within us.
Sometimes the Spirit comes across loud and clear and other times it takes some real meditative listening. Either way, God is speaking to us and filling us, loving us, revealing to us, and trusting us through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God revealed to us through trusting in that God will reveal God’s self. In other words, God longs for us to know God and makes that knowledge possible through the Holy Spirit.
In this manner, the Holy Spirit is both the easiest and the most difficult member of the Trinity to contemplate. On the one hand, humanity has from the dawn of theological time argued for a Spiritual “otherness” that when attained will bring us closer to God. At the same time, there is no tangible way to tell someone the Holy Spirit did this, or the Holy Spirit did that, in fact, some may call you crazy if you walked around saying you were listening to a spirit. But what is so crazy about believing that God would want to forever be with you and inspire your days? Perhaps then what it truly comes down to is trust in that God continues to be active in our lives through the Holy Spirit.
Walter Kasper also states that “Knowledge of God's incomprehensibility is the beatifying fulfillment of the human person.” In other words, when we trust in the mysteries of God, we are forever changed as we put our faith in the very things which are most holy. We are sanctified in the Greatness of God!
Would it be great if God or Jesus were right here with us in physical form, sure. But there is a very good reason they are not; us, we are the reason why God and Jesus are not physically here. We have been given everything we need to live a life in following Christ. We have all the tools we need to be the hands and feet of God to our neighbors, to strangers, to our world. And we have the Holy Spirit breathing the power, the peace, the strength, and the love in and through us all the time as the very breath of God.
Brothers and sisters, this is why it is so important for us to be reminded that the Holy Spirit is the way in which God is present in the world. Because the way that God is present to those in our world is through us. Can and does God work according to God’s will, absolutely. But you and I, we are part of God’s will and the way we treat one another is either a step toward healing and hope and unity and love, or it is a step in the opposite direction. The way you and I worship and have faith is either a reminder to our world that the God of love still exists, that God is active in the world through the Holy Spirit and that no matter who needs to hear the Good News of salvation and grace through Jesus Christ they can, or it is a step in the other direction.
And not to be too pessimistic or cynical, but our world has been stepping in the other direction for far too long. We see violence, hate, war, dis-unity, people vilifying others just for political gain, people killing one another for power and greed, people segregating and closing others off in order to protect unjust systems, people hanging onto the threads of an earthly existence which is doomed to whither and fail…Where is God in this world? And we, the church, should not wonder why people are leaving the church, when the very people who should be sharing the Good News of the love of Christ are sometimes the ones preventing others from hearing the Good News of Jesus’ love.
So what is the answer? The Holy Spirit in and through us is the answer. And if the problems of our world seem too vast to conquer, or the languages too difficult to comprehend, then whittle them down and speak the languages you know. We know how to be neighborly to the outcast, to the homeless, to the widow, to the stranger in our own corner of MN. We know how to welcome and be the hands and feet of hope for those who have none here in Little Falls. We know when we listen to the radio or watch the tv or read the paper when we hear things that are not in line with Christ’s teachings about grace, mercy, hope, forgiveness, and love. And we know that God is here with us, present in our world because we can feel the presence of the Holy Spirit in and through us always if we only but stop to listen and hear and act, Amen!
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.