Every year at Pentecost we hear the familiar expressions; Come Holy Spirit, the gift of the Spirit, the outpouring of the Spirit, and the power of the Spirit. We are taught to believe in, and reflect on the Spirit’s role in Christian faith. So, am I supposed to sit still at Pentecost and wait for something magical to take over or enter my soul, and then suddenly I will be able to put the Spirit’ power to work? I’m not sure how you feel, but I would like to know how I can experience this power more easily and put it to good use…
How do we embrace Pentecost and the gift of the Holy Spirit as a time of renewal for us, not only as individuals, but as a community? As with all of our Christian feast days, Pentecost is celebrating and pointing to a spiritual reality that is always present to us and within us. It does not wear off or run out, and we are not waiting to receive it again. The gift given at Pentecost is always within us, but I think it can go dormant in us sometimes. Maybe that’s why we need the celebration each year to remind us once again, that through the Spirit, we have the power to change and transform other people’s lives.
If we believe the Spirit has a living power in our faith lives as Christians, then we should also believe in the spirit’s power to help us cross boundaries, and build bridges beyond the often-narrow social settings we choose to live in. So, how do we do it ? One answer might be… as with all things spiritual… through RELATIONSHIPS!
The power of the Spirit always manifests itself within the context of right relationship. In other words, we are built for relationship and community. For example, I tend to notice the “power” of prayer and the presence of the Spirit is more evident to me when my prayers and actions are aligned with serving others more than tending to my own needs. I suppose this is why at its core, every major spiritual tradition embraces some form of detachment from the self.
The Holy Spirit moves within in each of us in unique ways, as we are unique people with different gifts. We can help bring the “power of the Spirit” to life by putting our gifts into service for others. Our Pentecost experience may not be as visually dramatic as it is in scripture, but when we allow God to fill our hearts with His spirit, and then act on it, we are inviting God’s extraordinary power into our ordinary daily lives.
Whenever we give another hope, forgive someone, reconcile, offer help, show courage, demonstrate patience, or work for peace and justice, we are letting the Spirit unlock doors for ourselves and others. We are letting ourselves to “be sent” out by Jesus, with the power of the Holy Spirit.