May 2013

Dear Parishioners:

As we approach the feast day of Pentecost, we cannot help but remember the fire, the wind and the speaking in tongues that were witnessed on that day. But what does our Prayer Book say about the Holy Spirit? Who is the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Trinity, God at work in the world and in the Church even now. How is the Holy Spirit revealed in the Old Covenant? The Holy Spirit is revealed in the Old Covenant as the giver of life, the One who spoke through the prophets. How is the Holy Spirit revealed in the New Covenant? The Holy Spirit is revealed as the Lord who leads us into all truth and enables us to grow in the likeness of Christ. How do we recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives? We recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit when we confess Jesus Christ as Lord and are brought into love and harmony with God, with ourselves, with our neighbors, and with all creation. How do we recognize the truths taught by the Holy Spirit? We recognize truths to be taught by the Holy Spirit when they are in accord with the Scriptures. The Feast Day of Pentecost, itself brings back our thought of the Baptism of Jesus, the event that we always celebrate on the First Sunday of Epiphany. It was a drama of enormous significance that is so unique to His baptism that we can miss its meaning as it might have struck a Jew witnessing the event. A dove appears out of heaven, and in that form, the Holy Spirit once again broods over the waters.

The Holy Spirit came into the world in a new haunting. The older title Holy Ghost carries this meaning. Haunting is what ghosts do. To haunt means to inhabit and, perhaps, appear from time to time. Hauntings are disquieting. They make us uneasy. In His haunting, the Holy Spirit would not only inhabit men and women, His presence would disturb with transforming power, the kind of power that makes new creatures.

An example of the sort of thing I mean was dramatized in an old episode of that TV show called The Twilight Zone. An old, worn-out car was sold to a slick con man who resold such junk to unsuspecting victims at his used car dealership.

The old car bestowed on its owner the irresistible compulsion to tell the truth. However, much as he might not want to, its owner always had to tell the truth. Soon the once shady car dealer had no customers because he told the truth about all his clunkers, and his wife discovered that all those “late hours at the office” were really spent gambling.

Everyone who possessed this car found it disagreeable. To people not used to it, the unrelenting truth was cheerless misery. So they wanted to get rid of the car as fast as they could. Politicians, journalist, and advertisers were promising recipients of this haunting.

The drama was Rod Serling’s commentary on the human heart and its relation to the truth. Lies are more useful, more profitable, and definitely more comfortable.

The haunting of the Holy Spirit in the life of a Christian has something of the same effect. While the Holy Spirit does not force us to tell the truth—God does not compel conformity to His life–The Spirit dwelling in us makes the truth a top priority. That is what being a child of God is all about. As Jesus told Pilate, “…For this purpose I came into the world, to bear witness to the truth. All who are of the truth hear my voice: (John 18:37).

We are meant by God to think the truth, say the truth, do the truth, love the truth. We become, while the Spirit haunts us, more sensitive to the lies we use and serve. This is one of the reasons why the Sacrament of Reconciliation of a Penitent is so important. We are able by the Holy Spirit to see our sins and lies more and more clearly when held up to the truth.

Lies take other forms than bald faced deceit. They take shape as exaggeration, slander, insincerity, hypocrisy, self- deception and denial. They can even take the guise of “honesty,” that rude self- indulgence of how “I feel” at the expense of others. But whatever form they take, the power of our Baptism and the Holy Spirit is meant to overcome them, to drive the lies out of our heart and life.

This is why the vows of Baptism have so much to say about Satan, the Father of Lies. When we were baptized the great spiritual battle began in us: the Spirit of God contending with the spirit of evil in our hearts. Divine victory in that warfare is the instrument of our transformation, our re-creation. In taking possession of our heart, mind and soul, God makes a new creation for Himself in whom there is no room for evil.
Will God have His victory over lies, or will we find the truth too painful, and so choose the side of deceit and evil? Baptism does not coerce us to choose God. Rather, it guarantees that if we do choose Him, He will enable us, in the words of the old baptismal prayer to, “ fight under Christ’s banner against sin, the world, and the devil, and continue Christ’s faithful soldier and servant unto his/her life’s end.”
Pentecost just like Baptism has all these elements. Fire–the power to destroy the old self and purify the new; wind—the Breath of God to give life to his creation; the speaking in tongues–the speaking of the truth to everyone–the Good News in Jesus Christ who is the way , the truth, and the life.

In Christ,
Fr. K+

Permanent link to this article: http://www.saintalbans.org/2013/05/01/may-2013/

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