I hope and pray this letter finds you well. Today we celebrate the arrival of the Holy Spirit with the festival of Pentecost, today is also the Sunday when we celebrate the birthday of the Church. When did you last celebrate a birthday either a dinner party or some other form and I don’t necessarily mean your own either? Was it a good and joyous occasion? Did the person whose birthday it was have a great time?
We celebrate the arrival of the Holy Spirit 10 days after the ascension of Jesus Christ which was a week last Thursday. God sent His Holy Spirit after the departure of His Son as a continuation of His presence with us to help us and to guide us. Why is it important that we mark the arrival of the Holy Spirit? Well, last week I talked about prayer being the most under-utilised resource we have in the church. I would argue that the gift of the Holy Spirit is the second most under utilised gift that the church has and this is because there is so much confusion and misunderstanding about who He is and what He does. The first thing you will notice is that I have referred to Him as a ‘He’, others will refer to the Holy Spirit as a ‘She’, that is because the word in Hebrew is a feminine word, however, to spend time debating is quite frankly a red herring, the important thing to note is that the Holy Spirit is a Person and needs to be treated as such, I do hate it when people to refer our baby as an it, so imagine how God feels!
Secondly, the Holy Spirit is not some ghost who hovers in the corner of a room making weird noises, whoever translated ‘spirit’ into ‘ghost’ thinking they were being helpful was surely mistaken. Generations of people have been brought up with the misleading language of Father, Son and Holy Ghost. The spirit of a person who is energetic and lively and lights up a room when they enter could be described as charismatic. So, it is in that vein we receive the Spirit of God in us when we are accepted into the life of the church. Therefore, when someone is confirmed, there is the laying on of hands because the Holy Spirit is being transmitted to them usually by the minister or bishop.
Thirdly, what is the role and the purpose of the Holy Spirit? The role of the Holy Spirit is the glorification of Jesus Christ (John 16:14) and the purpose of His work is to act as a teacher, He does this by reminding us of what we have already learnt (John 15:26) and guiding us to learn further (John 16: 13). As a Christian grows and matures, she or he will become aware of the gifts of the Holy Spirit they possess (see 1 Corinthians 12) and how to use them and begin to display the fruits of the Spirit in their character and everyday life (see Galatians 5: 13-26). Our reading today is taken from Acts 2: 1 – 21, which records the arrival of the Holy Spirit, please do read, and digest it. The one danger I would caution us about is that there are many Christians and indeed Ministers out there, who advocate that the Holy Spirit does not exist, I would argue that is both dangerous and heretical. The Holy Spirit is as much a part of our understanding of God is as Jesus is. So today, let us, rejoice, and say aloud, come Holy Spirit and fill us afresh today, and may Northwood Methodist Church receive a fresh outpouring on its members and friends, its activities, its premises, and its mission to bring Jesus Christ and His Good News to the community of Northwood today.
May our Lord Jesus Christ, the forerunner of the Holy Spirit, bless us now and always,