• By: Pastor Shawn
  • Exploratory Musings on Faith and Life from Pastor Shawn

    When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
    Acts 2:1-4

    I want to talk about the Holy Spirit.

    First I'd like to tell you a story of the Holy Spirit at work. Eleven years ago, an acquaintance of mine was having a rough time. Life had dealt her a couple of blows, and she seemed at a crossroads. When I heard about this from a mutual friend, something inside of me said "Help her."

    Mind you, I didn't know her well. We had worked for the same company before she got let go in a lay-off, but we had never really worked together. The few times we'd met since, we had exchanged hellos, but that was about it. I had no particular reason, other than a general sense that she'd been dealt a bad hand, to reach out to her.

    "Help her. Do something. Find a way."

    So I tried. The first couple of offers were not needed. She probably wondered why this guy she didn't really know was even offering to help her. But I persisted, making a new offer every so often, and finally she said "Yes, OK" to one of them. We started emailing to arrange things, and never really stopped. That woman's name is Tami, and in August, we'll celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary.

    I still can't explain why I felt the need to help Tami so strongly, except to say that it was the Holy Spirit at work in my life. You see, through being with Tami, I came back to faith, and then I became active at church, and then, well, you know the rest. That one action has ended up taking me places I never dreamt I'd go, and getting me to do things I never thought I could do.

    The Holy Spirit isn't interested in our comfort zones. It led Mary into unwed parenthood. It drove Jesus into the wilderness to fast and be tempted. And on Pentecost, the Holy Spirit changed the disciples' lives for-ever. Their lives had already been rearranged by being with Jesus, but the Holy Spirit sent them out to do things they would never have believed themselves capable of doing, scattering them, according to tradition, across the world. Their faith in Jesus, combined with the actions of the Holy Spirit, turned the disciples into the Apostles and grew the early church to a point where it could no longer be contained, despite persecution by both religious and civil authorities.

    As Lutherans, we say that the Holy Spirit brings us to faith. Yet that's only half of the story. The Holy Spirit also leads us beyond faith into following Christ's example of doing good in the world. The Holy Spirit leads us to help the marginalized, the downtrodden, the out-cast, and the needy. The Holy Spirit does not lead us to perse-cute, denigrate, or condemn others. Even if we think we're doing such things in the name of Christ, something other than the Holy Spirit is prompting us.

    How is the Holy Spirit at work in your life, your church, your community? The stories don't have to be big and attention-grabbing. The Holy Spirit often works in simple, subtle ways. As we move into that long, slow portion of the liturgical year called Time After Pentecost, perhaps we can better remember what that really means. The Time After Pentecost is the time when the Holy Spirit is overtly active in our lives, leading us to do the work of Christ however we can. Like any wind, we do not see where it comes from, and we do not know where it is going, but we can see what the Holy Spirit does as it moves through our lives. Come, Holy Spirit.

    Pastor Shawn