The Spirit in All of Us – June 16, 2019
Isaiah 61, Acts 2:14-24
June 16, 2019 – Trinity Sunday
This is Trinity Sunday. It is the day we recognize that we worship a “Triune God,” meaning a God who is “Three in One.” Now, that’s not an easy concept to “wrap our heads around!” I know it is for me. In fact, it’s still hard for me not to think we worship three Gods!
But that is the “mystery” we deal with when we hear this word “Trinity.” A word, by the way, which is not found in the Bible(!) Though there are many “Trinitarian” references – that is, references to the “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”
So no, we do not worship three Gods. But we do worship a God who has chosen to reveal himself to us in these three ways, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And as we think about that, I think it’s important that we connect with God in all three persons. God touches our lives in different ways through these three “persons” of the Trinity.
We think in terms of God being the great Father “who art in heaven,” Who loves us. He loves us so much that he sent his Son, or theologically he came himself in the form of the Son, though that’s kind of hard to grasp. Through Jesus, he gave us his grace, mercy, and forgiveness. And then he sent the Spirit, which Jesus promised. Don’t forget that. In the upper room (In John’s Gospel) Jesus told them God would send them “Another comforter” or “Another counselor,” which is the Holy Spirit.
So think about it. We worship a “Triune God.” God the Father and his love for the world – we can sort of get, although our image is usually way too small. Jesus and his grace – that’s a lot easier to grasp. And we’re really “big on” that one! But this “Third Person” of the “Trinity,” the Holy Spirit – that one we’re not so sure about that, are we? The Holy Spirit is hard to “pin down.” As Jesus himself said, “The Spirit blows where it wills. You hear the sound of it, but you cannot tell where it’s coming from, or where it’s going.” (John 3:8) If you think about it, that was an amazingly prophetic description, considering the “Sound like a mighty wind” they would hear at Pentecost. Do you think he was trying to give them a hint?
So, the Holy Spirit – that is hard to “pin down” – both literally and theologically. What is the Spirit? How does he work? How do we know he is with us? Those things are hard to figure out. Sometimes we feel like we’re “chasing after the wind.” You may remember those words used by the writer of Ecclesiastes.
Maybe we feel that way when it comes to the Holy Spirit. Or, like many, maybe we just don’t give the Spirit much thought. Or maybe it’s easier for us just to “resign” the Holy Spirit to others – perhaps to our “Pentecostal” bothers and sisters! They seem to “get” the “Holy Spirit thing” better than us, don’t they? All those “gifts” and “manifestations.” That’s all too “uncomfortable” to us – as is the Spirit itself.
But we need to think about it. And Pentecost – and now “Trinity Sunday” is a good time to do so. Because, as God’s people, we need to be considering in our lives all three “persons” of the Trinity.
We’re thinking today about “The Spirit in All of Us.” And as we do, we’re focusing on these two little verses in Acts, very astutely quoted by Peter on Pentecost from the prophet Joel.
“And in the last days it shall be,” God declares,
“that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams.
Yea, even on my menservants and my maidservants in those days
I will pour out my Spirit.” (Acts 2:17-18)
That’s how Peter understood the things that were happening those days. The spirit of God was being poured out on all people! And we are part of that “all people.” Not just those people then! We are all part of the “All flesh” Joel was talking about. We’re thinking today about “The Spirit in All of Us.” And I encourage you – I exhort you – to think about the Spirit in you! Because it’s too easy to forget! And it’s too easy to “resign” to someone else.
Think of it this way. We’re coming up on our election of officers. Again, that’s next week. And too often in churches people leave things to their officers – their leaders. But I’ll say again then, what I’ll say right now. The leaders of the church are not elected to do the work of the Church. They are elected to “lead us!” Hence the name! And they lead all of us in the work of the church. I’ve said before, it’s not the job of the Trustees to do all the work on the building and grounds of the Church. It’s their job to oversee the work of the building and grounds. But the work is done by all of us! Do you get that?
Well, “spiritual things” are sometimes handled that same way. People in a church sometimes see the leaders of the church or the clergy as the “spiritual people.” And they leave the whole “Holy Spirit” thing to them. They will listen to, and “go along with” the spiritual people around them, but they don’t think of themselves as “spiritual.” Friends we are all spiritual people! And God works in all of us through the person and power of the Holy Spirit!
Think about how the church grew in those early days. The faith is described as spreading “like wildfire.” And the way it spread was by word of mouth. It spread and grew by one person telling another. But again, too often in the Church, people think it’s the leaders who are responsible for that growth. Sure many were “added to the faith” on that day of Pentecost. Yes, Peter preached the first Christian sermon. The disciples gave witness to the resurrection and the Holy Spirit. And people responded. But it was through the spirit in all the believers that the Church grew the way it did in those early centuries!
Somewhere along the line, people started to rely on their leaders to do all the Evangelism. That became the dreaded “E” word. A word to be feared and shunned by all!
But as I said a few weeks ago, the “compelling” way we live our lives, the way we love and support and forgive and forebear and uphold and upbuild each other, that is the best and most important part of evangelism. When people see that, they want it for themselves! That’s all of our jobs. (I’m using that word “All” a lot today!) And the Holy Spirit dwelling within us is a huge part of that!
I could go on and on. But I want you to see that it is the Holy Spirit who gives us the strength and guidance (and counsel) to do those things that build up others and thereby strengthen Church. And when we concentrate on building each other up, we will then build up the Church!
And no, we cannot control the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is like the wind, as Jesus described. But maybe we can be like those big turbines in a “wind farm.” That’s what they call them these days. Maybe you’ve seen one, with the rows of wind turbines, all using the wind to generate electrical power. Maybe we can see ourselves as harnessing the power of the Holy Spirit in that way.
I’ll leave you with that image. We are the wind turbines that seek to harness the power of the wind, which is the Holy Spirit. We are striving to think about, and to be aware of that Holy Spirit in our lives. As we seek to be the people of God, we know that his Spirit is in all of us!