Summary: We sometimes picture the Holy Spirit as fire, chaos & activity, but the Spirit is about withdrawing & silence too.
Ezekiel 37: 1 – 14
Two very famous readings today.
The Old Testament lesson from Ezekiel 37 tells of the powerful wonderful vision of the Holy Spirit bringing life to that which was dead, & of course how could we not have Acts 2, Luke’s account of the Spirit falling that first Pentecost.
Clear the link with the 2 passages is that both Ezekiel & Luke tell of the way God wants to transform dry dead faith by the power of His Spirit.
Ezekiel’s prophecy was against his own people, a people who were all dried up. Ezekiel 37:11b
"Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off"
Too often this is too the testimony of the modern day Church too – we have become all dried up, depressed & out of steam. We attempt to lead lives that are so much like the experience of Israel it is amazing because we too attempt to go on in our own strength.
The answer for Ezekiel is to allow God to breathe new life through our dry bones.
If we attempt to live in our own strength & witness & work for the Kingdom by our own endeavour we will yes sometimes have success but we will always end up dry. The set backs will come & we will be knocked back & our faith alone will break in the face of the noise of the world.
No we need to be in a living relationship with the Lord God – filled daily with His Spirit if we don’t want to be all dried up in our faith & out of steam. I think we have to learn the Spiritual discipline our Lord Jesus practice – the discipline of withdrawing.
Now don’t get me wrong for I am no great lover of Holy huddles; retreats from real world concern me, but we have to find space like Jesus to be still & to be alone with God.
A good example is Luke 21: 37f
"Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple, & each evening he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives, & all the people came early in the morning to hear him at the temple"
If Jesus needed that kind of space & stillness to escape from world to be strengthened, reassured & empowered to return back in power, how dare we think we don’t need to be still & to be filled?
When we do open ourselves up in that way to God He will keep us safe & give us the words we need in every situation.
In a prayer from the Iona community God the Holy Spirit is called:
‘Breath of life, breath of deepest yearning, comforter,
disturber, interpreter, enthuser, Heavenly friend,
lamplighter, revealer of truth, midwife of change’
I love those images of the Spirit of God for us, roles I want to suggest to you today He seeks to be for us in the silence of our retreats from the world.
Too often we associate the Spirit’s role with the noise & action like in Acts 2. This Pentecost evening I want to challenge you to see differently, to see the Spirit relating with us in quiet, silent, reflective moments.
In moments when we can let down our guard after feeling maybe that world is drowning us - or problems are overwhelming us - He seeks to be the gentle comforter & enthuser of power - throwing an arm of love gently around us.