A View From The Vicarage -June
“The Spirit lives to set us free”
The story is told of a strictly teetotal Scottish Presbyterian Minister who was once sent a bottle of cherry brandy by a kind member of the Kirk. The bottle was given on the very strict understanding that the Minister should acknowledge the gift publicly, to which, of course, the Minister assented. In the following month’s magazine, the following announcement appeared: “the Minister would like to acknowledge the kind gift of fruit and the spirit in which it was sent.”
It seems to me that many of us regard the Holy Spirit in much the same way as that minister and so many others regard the bottled varieties. The occasional one or two suitable maybe even beneficial on certain occasions but prolonged exposure and certainly beyond strictly defined and prescribed limits extremely injurious to one’s health and general well-being.
The Acts of the Apostles which we’ve been reading throughout Eastertide would suggest that, that is very far from the truth and the reality of the Holy Spirit. The book is crammed full of instances when the Spirit is seen powerfully at work in the life both of Christ’s first followers but equally of those who were convinced because of them.
Should we simply conclude that, that was then and this is now and therefore we shouldn’t expect to see manifestations of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives or in the lives of those who are our friends and neighbours. We might even conclude that people were perhaps more credulous then than we are now and that what they attributed to the actions of the Holy Spirit were in fact little more than naturally occurring phenomenon which had been misinterpreted. Maybe our logical deduction would be to say that we’re British and such things simply do not happen here; it’s not the British way!!
I don’t know about you but I regard all of those charactures and all of the others that I could also have used but didn’t as little more than a whole barrowload of rubbish. I’m entirely convinced that the Spirit is just as active among us and in our communities among our families’ friends and neighbours as ever he was in the lives of our first brothers and sisters in Christ. The difference is simply that, as a society, we’re not as open and responsive to his actions and the consequences of his engagement in our lives as were our forebears. Before we become unduly despondent let’s not forget that not everybody then saw the Spirit at work either; even on the Day of Pentecost itself some put the whole experience down to drunkenness!
What about you and me? Do we pray for the Spirit to transform us while hoping against hope that if he is active here and now he’ll count us out thank you very much indeed!!
As we read and hear again the momentous events of that first Pentecost Sunday in Jerusalem so long ago let’s pray mightily that the Spirit will be as powerfully active here among us and in our communities as ever he was then. Let’s also pray with equal fervour that we will welcome and respond to the Sprit’s work in us and through us; for as the chorus of that great modern hymn reminds us:
“The Spirit lives to set us free; walk, walk in the light.
He binds us all in unity: walk, walk in the Light.”
With my love and prayers as always
In the power of the Spirit