As we begin the month of June, the Festival Half of the Church Year has come to an end. All those wonderful celebrations of Christmas and Easter are behind us now and we enter the “ordinary” time of the Church Year called the Season of Pentecost. Our next big celebration is months from now, and one could easily think that not much of importance happens in the life of a follower of Jesus during this time of year. But that would be a mistake!
During the season of Pentecost, we focus on the work of the Holy Spirit. God poured out His Spirit upon the Christian Church on the Day of Pentecost nearly 2,000 years ago. And ever since, the Holy Spirit has lived within the heart of everyone who believes in Jesus. First given to us in our Baptism, the Holy Spirit gives us the gift of faith in Jesus, and the Spirit motivates and moves us to lovingly serve our neighbour and worship God with our whole heart.
The Holy Spirit is so important to us. Without Him, we cannot believe in God or come to Him. Without the Spirit’s guiding hand, we would always be off-track in our lives and in our relationship with God. Without the Spirit’s power, we wouldn’t have the desire or the energy to serve others and worship God as we ought.
Yet time and time again, we try to live our Christian lives under our own power and strength. We believe things that are not really true. We head off in directions that we think are right, but, in reality, we are going totally the wrong way. We try to be a “good person” and help out in our community and congregation, but it never seems to be enough. We try to tell others about Jesus, but it feels so awkward and it doesn’t seem to make a difference anyway. I know, because I do it myself. And it doesn’t work.
What we should really be doing is living lives that are completely led and fully empowered by the Holy Spirit. That is how our life should be lived! And where do we encounter the Holy Spirit? Where does the Spirit fill us and refresh us and reinvigorate us again and again? In the Word and the Sacraments! The Holy Spirit works the words of the Bible, the water of Holy Baptism and the bread and wine of Holy Communion to give us strengthened faith, vigorous new life, godly guidance and hearts full of love for God and others.
Pentecost is a wonderful season for a follower of Jesus. Without the gift of the Holy Spirit, Christmas and Easter are just secular holidays geared towards increasing consumption in our market economy. But with the Holy Spirit, our lives become infinitely more important than the stuff that we gather. We are children of God, put on this earth to share the love and forgiveness of Jesus with others so that they, too, may believe and be saved.
Earlier, I said that during the Season of Pentecost we focus on the work of the Holy Spirit. It would have been more accurate to say that we focus on the work of the Holy Spirit within the people of God, we focus on the work of the Holy Spirit in you.
May the Spirit fill you and refresh you again and again during this wonderful Season of Pentecost!
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. (Romans 8:14)
(This article was written for the June 2006 edition of The Binder, the monthly newsletter of Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church, Swift Current SK.)