Summary: The Spirit anoints our witness, guides us in truth, and glorifies God the Father through us.
John 15:26-27, 16:4-15
Today is the day of Pentecost. We celebrate today as the birthday of the Church, when Jesus sent his Spirit upon his followers. In Luke’s account the Spirit came with the roar of a mighty wind, flames of fire, and the gift of language. John has Jesus giving his disciples the Spirit by breathing on them, while they were in the upper room. Either way the coming of the Spirit was a fulfillment of Jesus’ promise to his disciples. The Spirit was sent to be God’s presence in the absence of Jesus, and to empower Jesus’ followers for mission.
Usually the actual giving of the Holy Spirit in either the Acts or Johanine account is the text for the day, but not this year. Today we focus on Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit to the disciples, and Jesus’ reflections on the ministry of the Holy Spirit. When we do this, we soon realize that the Holy Spirit has not come once on the Day of Pentecost, or personally at the time of our baptism. Rather, the Spirit is moving in us and through us—empowering us and changing us.
THE TRUTH ABOUT SIN
One of my favorite hymns is really a prayer about the Holy Spirit. The first verse goes like this, “Spirit of God, descend upon my heart; Wean it from earth through all its pulses move; Stoop to my weakness strength to me impart, And make me love you as I ought to love.”
The Spirit does descend upon our hearts. When he does the Spirit teaches us truth—truth about God, about the world in which we live and about ourselves. In verse eight, Jesus says that when the Spirit comes he will prove the world wrong (or convince the world) about sin. The sin that Jesus is speaking of is the sin of unbelief.
The Spirit descends upon us and assures us of God’s love and grace, which has been most clearly demonstrated in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Spirit teaches us that sin at its heart is not a matter of actions or morality, but has to do with whether and how we will receive and believe in the Son as the one whom God has sent into the world.
The world has rejected Jesus. It refuses to believe--to live in the reality--that God is a God of love, the died for our Sin and to restore us in a relationship with God. Because of this rejection, the world is caught up in a list of does and don’ts, or in “Doing Its Own Thing.”
The Spirit moves in our lives and reminds us that we live in a relationship with God—not a list of laws. We live our lives in response to God’s love and grace—not in an effort to avoid punishment. Our actions stem from a changed life. Most of the time we do not struggle with the fact that Jesus died for our sins--though we do at times find it difficult to forgive ourselves--our greatest struggles appear to be perceiving God's presence and movement in our daily lives. There are times when we cannot believe that God is in control or that God knows our needs.
In to our lives and into our world, the Holy Spirit descends.