Come Holy Spirit

Acts 2:1-21
Come Holy Spirit! Good words for everyday, and particularly for church good words for every time we gather.
Come Holy Spirit! Think what that might mean in your terms, however you understand things spiritual.
What puts “wind beneath your wings”? These may be words of a secular song, but they're Bible words too: wind is a primary way of imagining Spirit. Wind and fire. Powerful things: can be destructive, definitely disturbing, also essential for life.
When we put “Holy Spirit” in our own terms, in relation to our own experience, we probably think support. Support in the sense of advocacy, solidarity from others. We think encouragement – giving courage. Energy. Inspiration. Also we think peace. Spirit of peace, and the peace of understanding. Being at peace.
Come Holy Spirit, we need you right now. For Holy Spirit also connects with things like wisdom and insight, everything we need to make good decisions. Trusting the Holy Spirit means trusting these qualities. That's what we've been doing over the years, from the very beginning of this parish, indeed of the two parishes that formed it – Whangaroa Methodist Circuit and Kerikeri Presbyterian Parish. Stories could be told about moments of decision: the first mission; the first church in Kaeo, the second and the third, different locations and finally Memorial building. The Little and Jolly Church in 1940 and in the early 50's buying the land on the corner of Kerikeri Road and Butler Road. I remember Robin McDiarmid saying to me when I visited to talk about the proposed sale of the property, what a good thing the choice was made to buy there and not on Cannon Drive. Rezoned commercial 50 years later and therefore very valuable.
Moments of decision over the years have involved making steps in faith. Which, to me, means investigating, listening, considering options, working it through together, praying (putting it all into the bigger picture), and, most of all, holding on to the vision of the whole point of being church. To work with Christ to grow kingdom-ways here on earth.
It's the Holy Spirit that prods us to look to the future, work with a vision, and not just lean on the certainties of the past. And it's the Holy Spirit that makes us “we”, not just “I” as in I think or I know. The two crucial bits to being church.
In the reading we heard Peter quote from the book of the prophet Joel. Powerful stuff. Ancient as can be (around 2,500 years ago), and totally relevant to now. The real hope lies in being community. Community in which all facets contribute. Not top down rule by those with the power and influence, or the money, or those with the assumed best age or colour or gender. But something contributed to the future by everyone. God is aiming for Spirit as part of everyone and recognised as such.
Think about the different groupings that are mentioned in the reading:
  1. Sons and daughters, that is, each generation following on. They are to get on and take responsibility, and be allowed responsibility, to plan for the future.
  2. Young people, in all their precociousness and impulsiveness, seeing what the future might be. And the rest of us taking them seriously.
  3. Old people dreaming dreams, and the rest of us taking time to listen to them. For dreams carry much from past experience, including treasures not to be lost.
  4. And there's no social or economic division here – the working poor have Spirit as well, those on the social underside, struggling. Listen to what the Spirit says as it comes through them.
One more thing. I said that it's spirit that changes us from a collection of “I”s – individuals as if in separate boxes – into “we”, as in community. Community is individuals in relationship with one another. In fact my favourite substitute word for spiritual is “relational”. The building of relationships. In a word, unifying. Not unity as something fixed and static, which can only happen by being forced on us, as in uniformity. But ongoing unifying, which happens by working together, and working to relate well to one another: our work as church community, which needs also to be the work of the wider community, if it is to be healthy and well in its spirit.

As we have been saying in recent weeks, this is core mission for our new building – a place for the spirit to move, for God's Spirit to speak to people's spirits just as they are. A place to unify the diverse peoples of Kerikeri.

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