February 3, 2021
Deacon Koren Lindley
I have been listening to the song “Holy Spirit” by Francesca Battistelli every day for the past weeks. It began as inspiration for a sermon I was writing, but it has become my daily (and sometimes hourly) prayer in these times of COVIDtide and national unrest.
In a time when I have found myself without words to pray with or words to describe my emotions, this song has been my “go to” invitation for the Holy Spirit to know that I am open and fully asking her to pour into my soul.
This “hard time” might sound familiar to many of you
We have all experienced days or weeks where we are feeling vulnerable, “off,” or a number of other emotions that leave us wondering, “God, where are you?” Recently I had one of those weeks.
My family of six was at the end of our two-week winter break from school and work. Some kids were ready to get back to school, see their friends, and have some structure. Other kids were not looking forward to giving up their late nights and late mornings.
I was ready to get back to work! My high school senior’s car wouldn’t start and the part we thought would fix it . . . didn’t. That meant we had scheduling obstacles. These were all minor things, but they were adding up. My good friend’s mom passed away suddenly from COVID, a reminder of the virus that is still running rampant in our communities.
Then January 6th happened, and I had kids who wanted to know why people were raiding our nation’s capital building and what this meant for our government, the election, and our future. I was overwhelmed trying to make sense of all this.
I found myself wondering where God was in all of it.
Where was God? Oh. Right here.
And then this happened. The next afternoon I was driving home from work. It was a gray and gloomy day, a pretty good match with my emotions. But suddenly, on a day when the weather experts said we would see no sunshine, the clouds broke apart just enough for the sun to shine its beautiful rays right through until they hit the ground.
All I could think of was Mark 1:10 where he recounts John baptizing Jesus, “And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him.” I wondered if this was even remotely what Jesus saw when he came up out of the water. It was my personal reminder that the Spirit was still with me, even though I felt like I was in various parts of the wilderness last week.
It was Jesus’ baptism and the gift of the Holy Spirit that carried him through some of the toughest challenges throughout his ministry. It grounded Jesus in his identity as God’s beloved Son as he set forth into the unknown. It was this moment and gift that made what seemed impossible possible.
In our Baptism, God has promised to be with us always.
The same can be said for us. We too have been gifted with the Holy Spirit, a companion throughout life. God has equipped us to get through the unknown and the wilderness. It might be messy and we might not have the answers, but that’s okay. We might feel lost and unsure, but there is peace and comfort knowing we are not alone.
We are also reminded that we are God’s beloved child, fully loved and accepted. It doesn’t matter what team we cheer for, what our talents are, where we are in our faith journey, what mistakes we have already made or will make…we are fully loved and accepted. There will be times when we struggle, times when we fall away, but that does not change God’s love for us.
And we get to be with others in their hard times, too
But how often do we lose sight of all this? How often do we forget or ignore or don’t see that the Holy Spirit is with us? How often do we forget or ignore or deny that we are fully loved and accepted, and that it is our responsibility to do the same for others?
Because along with the blessing of having the Holy Spirit with us, are the promises we make. The promise to…
- live among God’s faithful people
- to hear the Word of God and share in the Lord’s supper
- to proclaim the good news through Word and deed
- to serve ALL people following the example of Jesus
- to strive for justice and peace.
Remember your baptism and find rest in the Holy Spirit!
I don’t know about you, but it has been my experience that when I fall away from these promises, I also begin to lose sight of the Holy Spirit. I even question that I am fully loved and accepted by God. My anxiety tends to creep in and I begin to lose direction along with my footing. The wilderness time gets a million times more difficult to get through.
This is part of being human. So how do we get back on track or at least get through the wilderness? We remember our baptism and look for the Holy Spirit.
I invite you to listen to “Holy Spirit” (it can be found on Spotify & YouTube) as an invitation to the Holy Spirit to fill your heart, today and in the days to come.
Breathe in the Holy Spirit, sent to you to guide you and accompany you, wherever life leads and whatever challenges arise along the way. And keep your eyes open, you never know when the Spirit will surprise you, often when you least expect it.
Deacon Koren Lindley, Certified Spiritual Director