Coop's Column - God present and active
Pentecost is a day for the church to loudly sings its thanks and praise.
“In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.” ~ Acts 2:17
This coming Sunday, May 19, 2013, is Pentecost Day, the Christian festival to celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit whom the risen Jesus promised to send his disciples (cf. Acts 1.8). It’s a day (and beginning of a season) for the church, Jesus’ redeemed community, loudly to sing him her thanks and praise:
“For Your gift of God the Spirit power to make our lives anew
Pledge of life and hope of glory, Savior, we would worship you.
Crowning gift of resurrection sent from your ascended throne,
Fullness of the very Godhead, come to make your life our own.”
Among churches in the west, the liturgical color is red—vibrant red—symbolizing the lively joy and powerful fire of the Spirit. Priests and ministers are clothed in red, and wave upon wave of red banners bedeck church ceilings and walls, visible symbols of the released energy and “mighty wind” of the Spirit.
The Spirit's breath filling her lungs
No doubt about it: The Holy Spirit is the vibrant presence and power of the risen Lord alive and at work among those who believe in him. The Spirit indwells Christ’s community, and empowers her to live holy and to please God. He strengthens her to offer God due worship and to carry out the mission Jesus assigned her to do. That mission: to declare the Good News about the Savior’s triumph over sin and death, and then to offer help and service, blessing and healing, love and care in his name.
Without the Spirit’s “wind” rushing in to swell her lungs, Jesus’ Body, the Church, would have no energy to voice her worship, no power in her arms to serve as his disciples, no strength in her legs to follow hard after him.
But with Spirit’s “breath” filling her lungs—oh, what wonderful stamina He supplies daily for her to bring help to others, what beautiful gifts He gives so that she can bless them.
Pentecost is a season for the church
Thus, during Pentecost season the church encourages Christians to examine God’s relationship with them through the Spirit, and, in turn, to inquire how the Spirit is empowering them to bring joy and blessing to the world He so loves. They recall their risen Lord’s promise to them: “But you shall receive power when the Spirit comes upon you.” (Acts 1.8), and his accompanying mandate: “…and you shall be my witnesses.” Pentecost is a season for the church—and every believer within her body—to open wide and take in the Spirit’s warm breath and energy. It’s a season prayerfully to plead:
Spirit of faith, come down,
reveal the things of God,
and make to us the Godhead known,
and witness with the blood.
'Tis thine the blood to apply
and give us eyes to see,
who did for every sinner die
hath surely died for me.
No one can truly say
that Jesus is the Lord,
unless thou take the veil away
and breathe the living Word.
Then, only then, we feel
our interest in his blood,
and cry with joy unspeakable,
"Thou art my Lord, my God!"
O that the world might know
the all atoning Lamb!
Spirit of faith, descend and show
the virtue of his name;
the grace which all may find,
the saving power, impart,
and testify to humankind,
and speak in every heart.
Inspire the living faith
(which whosoe'er receive,
the witness in themselves they have
and consciously believe),
the faith that conquers all,
and doth the mountain move,
and saves whoe'er on Jesus call,
and perfects them in love.
Looking at the seven features
In coming weeks we shall train a spotlight upon seven features—jewels, really—which, so said 17th-18th century Puritans, every day (ought to) adorn Jesus’ body, the Church, and the believers who belong to her. Each jewel, Spirit-given, Spirit-shaped, and Spirit-burnished, both brings joy to Lord and also sets forth her splendor for the world to see. The seven features:
- Vivid awareness of the greatness and goodness of God
- Conscientiousness faithfulness to the Scriptures
- Longing to please and honor God
- Self-denial—a strong eagerness to serve others
- Worshipful intimacy with Jesus, risen Savior and Lord
- Deep humility and generous compassion toward others
- Simplicity of spirit, adult in knowledge and child-like in wonder
Join me in pleading for the Spirit’s guidance and blessing as we examine—and aim to show forth—these several features of a pentecostal life.
O Holy Ghost, O faithful Paraclete
Love of the Father and the Son.
In whom Begetter and Begotten meet….
Bond that holdeth God to man,
Power that welds in one humanity and Deity.
God making all that is before our day,
God guiding all that’s made throughout our day,
Gift that abides through an eternity
Of giving, and is made no less.
Thy going forth preceded Time,
Thy pouring forth took place in Time.
The one, the well-spring of power and the river of grace,
The other, the flowing, the giving, the light on our face.
Thou camest forth from Thy transcendant day,
To make for us this shining feasting day.
Thou who alone art worthily adored
With Father and Son.
To Thee in heart and word
Be honour, worship, grace,
Here and in every place,
World without end. Amen.
(Hildebert of Lavardin, (1056-1133)