When we try to think about the Holy Spirit in a way that is not weird, Acts 2:6, 12 are not helpful: “And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language” and “So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “Whatever could this mean?”
Rev. Leigh Spruill suggests that it is simpler to experience the Holy Spirit in our lives than these verses lead us to believe! How can we know the Holy Spirit is among us?
1. When we feel loved by God, having assurance through Jesus Christ. Sometimes it is hard for us to really believe that God loves us so much, but there is nothing we can do to earn more or less of God’s love. We should seek people for whom the love of Christ seems real and hang out with them, drawing on the strength of the Holy Spirit indwelling in them.
2. When we have a heightened sensitivity to the pain and brokenness in the world, not just in us, but in those around us, too. The Holy Spirit removes the veil so that we see suffering in the world and understand how our actions both negatively and positively impact others.
3. When we experience the fruits of the Spirit as explained by the apostle Paul in Galatians 5:22-23: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, self-control, faithfulness, and gentleness. Whether we give or receive them, we experience these fruits each day as the work of the Holy Spirit in us.
Rev. Spruill told a story of a West Texas Rancher who lived on his family’s homestead for 30 years until one day an engineer performed some tests and discovered that the ranch was on a huge oil field. The oil patch had always been there; the rancher just failed to recognize it. Just like the rancher, the richness of life has already been given to us through the Holy Spirit.
Rev. Spruill’s closing prayer was a poem by French Philosopher and Jesuit Priest, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin:
“By means of all created things, without exception, the divine assails us, penetrates us, and molds us. We imagined it as distant and inaccessible, when in fact we live steeped in its burning layers.”
I pray that each day you feel those “burning layers”, recognizing the work of the Holy Spirit in your life.
<Excerpts from a sermon by the Rev. Leigh Spruill, May 27, 2012, St. George’s Episcopal Church, Nashville, TN>