You’ve Got the Power!
Readings: Proverbs 8:22-31; Psalm 8; Romans 5:1-5; John 16:12-15
Life is a journey. Our Christian life is a journey of discovery of the God in whose image we are created. The most wonderful experience a human can have is to capture a glimpse of the mystery of God. That discovery comes about for the Christian by the telling and retelling of the story, of our experience of the God of love, our creator God, the God of compassion.
I know very well that when someone wants to tell me their story, they want to talk. They don't want me to talk. They have a need, as we all do, to tell the story of their particular journey, of their life experience. It is through the telling of our stories that we discover who we are. I suspect that is why teenagers spend so much time texting their friends. It is the age in which they are discovering a new self. How else can they discover it except by telling their story again and again until they are sure they know it? They need to recognize who they are. Not to tell your story relegates you to oblivion.
That is why it is so important for The Christian story to be told. We need to keep telling the story of Jesus over and over again. We need to remember who Jesus is. We need to remember who we are as well, for the gospels are stories about us. In them God interprets the events of our lives. In telling God's story we discover more about our true selves. That is why we celebrate the feast of the Holy Trinity. It is, first and foremost, about our relationship with God. It is about how we come to know God. It is about how we come to know ourselves, we who are made in God's image.
God's story is not static. It is a story in progress, for God is a mystery that keeps unfolding. Our journey through life is about the life long experience of coming to know God in all that great mystery.
The Trinity is a metaphor for how we experience God's presence. The readings are not explicit about the Trinity for the very reason that Scripture is not explicit about the Trinity. Rather the readings allow us to explore our experience of God in our lives.
In the midst of our lives they speak to us of a God who creates us with wisdom and care. In our anguish and trouble, they speak to us of a God who has an active, saving concern for the whole of humankind. In our confusion, they speak to us of a God unlimited by our understanding, totally experienced and wise.
The writer of Proverbs experiences God as Holy Wisdom. He names Wisdom as the first of God's creations. She is an expression of God's creativity, a companion who delights God and participates in the creative process. However far off God may seem to us, we know God's will and ways through the orderly beauty of creation and through holy wisdom. Consider how often in your journey through life you have been astounded by the awesome power of God as you experienced the beauty of nature! Perhaps you have stood as I have looking out across the snow capped Rockies and known God's presence. Or was it in the view of a perfect arc of colour across the sky at the end of a storm? Perhaps it was as you watched the opening of a dewy rose on a summer morning. Did you experience God in a beautiful sunset? Or was it the starry expanse of the night sky that transported you into God's very presence? If so, you were experiencing the creativity of God breathing life into the world.
For Paul even the hardships and adversities of life convince him about the love of God and God's saving grace at work in his life. He knew that the life lived in solidarity with Christ would come to look like Christ's life. He knew that would include the hardships and suffering. He experienced such love through God's grace and such peace in serving the risen Christ that the difficulties and defeats he faced did not drive him into shame. Rather they brought him more in touch with Christ's way. As his relationship with God grew, so he received encouragement in his Spiritual life that brought him even closer to God. For Paul peace and hope were not simply based on the past event of the cross, but were ongoing in his life. The love that he felt coming from God kept flowing in him. The more he allowed himself to be loved by God the more he was freed up to reach out to others in Christian love.
Perhaps you have experienced the mystery of God in the same way that Paul experienced it. Perhaps it happened as you sat by the bedside of a loved one as they lay dying. You may have experienced a closeness to God through your own suffering, through that sense of peace that comes in knowing that we do not suffer alone, that God is with us, carrying us through the most difficult times. Perhaps it was at a time of deep need when an earnest prayer was answered, and you knew that it was God’s presence in your life that made all the difference.
We can also experience the mystery of God in the great joys of life. Perhaps for you it was in the birth of a child, holding that new life in your arms. You may have experienced it in a momentous event in your life, a graduation ceremony, the day of your marriage. Such events help us to understand that God is at work in our lives, that God is present with us.
In the Gospel the disciples learn more about the promise of the Holy Spirit and its active presence in their lives. “When the Spirit of truth comes,” Jesus tells them, “he will guide you into all the truth. The Spirit will declare to you the things that are to come.” That same promise of Jesus is ours as well. It is not a matter of the Holy Spirit giving us insight into the future. That is not ours to know. It is not telling us how to live our lives. But the Holy Spirit should be part of our decision-making. We need to ask God for help and insight. The Spirit gives us the honesty and courage to see the consequences of our actions and remain clear sighted about our decisions. What a practical God we worship!
Perhaps you have found yourself pondering the right move in your life. The way has become clear as you prayed for God’s guidance. Perhaps your reflections and prayers have helped you to face adversity. Perhaps you have experienced a sense of inner joy and peace even though you were not even sure how you were going to overcome some great difficulty in your life. That is the power of the Holy Spirit at work in your life.
There was an ad on television. A woman was explaining to her husband how to get the laundry clean. “You’ve got the power. Now use it,” she says to him. I am saying to you this morning, “You’ve got the power. Now use it.” The Holy Spirit has been given to us. We have the power, not as the world knows power, but as God knows it. This is not the power to destroy or put down or harm; this is the power to discover truth, to create, to heal, to bring light into darkness, to bring beauty into ugliness, goodness into evil, sweetness into bitterness, joy into grief. You’ve got the power of the Holy Spirit indwelling you to bring Christ’s gift of salvation into the world.
That is part of the wonderful mystery of our awesome God. Let us experience God in an endless variety of ways, through worship, study and interaction with all that God has created, and especially in our actions in the world.
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