1Cor. 12:1-7 (NRSV) Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans, you were enticed and led astray to idols that could not speak. Therefore, I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says “Let Jesus be cursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit. Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
I have noticed as of late that more and more of us are getting frazzled. The four walls, the environment, the unknown…we are, well we don’t know how we feel. We know that something is different in us because the world as we know it and have grown up in has been turned upside down. We are a little more edgy yearning for that calm we used to feel…that secure feeling.
I believe that we can now understand the feelings of the disciples some 1,987 years ago. Yes, a certain insecurity and a position that we are sadly all too familiar with. Think about it, the guy they were traveling with for three years was crucified and then in three days resurrected! They realize when Jesus appears in their secluded locked room and received “The Gift” he promised, the Ruach, the very breath of God, puffed into them, then Thomas comes in, we don’t read that Jesus breathed on him, all that we know is his great confession!
Luke tells us of the Pentecost moment in Jerusalem. Peter preaches and their journey really begins. Thousands will be baptized by water and spirit. The wind was fierce, and the flames of fire ushered in a new dawn for humanity. God had fulfilled all the promises made, the relationship was mended, our sins (all of them) forgiven; we are saved.
The blood of Jesus did not cover our sins, he didn’t conceal or diminish them. Jesus the Lamb of God took away the sins of the world (John 1:29). The only scorecard of our lives was erased, in fact it was lost and destroyed. God allows our mistakes to be lost in his Omnipotence and unbridled love; so much so there is a void. But God even filled the void left by the sacrifice for us.
God knew there would be a void that needed to be filled even before the Son’s blood was shed. God would send the Holy Spirit. Water, Wind, Fire, or Breath! If our souls are empty of the sins, we need that void filled … we need both… the sacrifice and the indwelling presence. God took care of everything.
The task of the disciples, the task of Luke, the task of Paul, is to tell us what is next. Once we believe, the water, wind, and breath of the Spirit will work in us. Jesus won’t continue to work at saving us…no, that work is done and complete. The task at hand will be how to transform us, to change us, and in deep reverence, retreat from all those things that will irritate and offend God. Will we be successful, I’m sorry to say not in all cases, at all times? We all fall short…all of us. However, the Spirt engages us to do better, to do good, to love even our enemies (these days the Holy Spirit is working significant overtime in us).
The breath of God, the river of water, the wind of engagement and the burning of the fire is alive in us all the time. When we need it, when we fall short, when we don’t deserve it, is when the breath is sweeter, the river wider, the wind messes our hair, and the heat is turned up! That continues to be the gift that God gives us.
Each of us is called to a particular task and ministry, no one way better, just each needed and together we then form the Body of Christ. That is the diversity the Spirit breathes, flows, and heats. It is the same Spirit that re-forms us and presents to us ministries and activities that brings us together, in different functions, for the good of the whole body with the same purpose.
God loves us so much that God gave us that diversity. The call is to serve the one true loving God but there is an allowance and need to be different and fulfilling. We must be united in our purpose, our goal, and our call. When one of us goes off course, if we are true to our call, we are to point out the blunder. In love, in concern, we engage to point. Always pointing to the Shepherd. We are not called to judge; God does that. We are not called to save; Jesus does that. We are not called to convict; the Holy Spirit does that.
In these days of conflict, tension, and noise we will all be grabbed and distracted. I pray you have friendships, brothers and sisters, that are so strong that when you step off of the path, the hand of love is offered to you to lift you up just as Jesus lifted Peter up out of the drowning waters of the stormy sea.
Stay strong, be encouraged. The days are coming closer when we will gather together again in-person. It will look different than before. We will be re-formed, we will be stronger and we will still fulfill the goal that God sets before us. Why? Because God still delights in us, loves us and guides us. We are still bound together in our baptisms. We still have the same story to tell; Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior who was born, lived, suffered, died for all our sins and rose so that we might live eternally at the right hand of God; the God that created all the heavens above and the earth below and all that is therein. God calls us to a Baptism of Water, in the Spirit, where we receive the very essence of God, to do the work and ministries each of us are called to do! AMEN!
Peace, Pastor Ken