Sharing the Spirit

When I pull into my driveway, I am welcomed by glorious flowers. Yellows, reds, purples, all the colours of the rainbow shimmer in the summer sun. I smile and relax. “Thank you, God, for the gift of your presence here in my home,” I whisper.

When I step through the doorway at our Dunsford church, I am greeted by God’s  Holy Spirit, pouring out from the eyes, smiles and hugs of individuals in the congregation. Even on weekdays, when the building is empty, the echoes of their love enfold me as soon as I enter. “Thank you, God,” I whisper. “Thank you God for the gift of your presence here in this, your house of prayer.”

Last month, I was blessed with the privilege of gathering for worship at two Christian Conferences, one for writers and one for the wider church. Both times, my heart lifted in the presence of God’s Spirit that emanated from hundreds of others.

No wonder we lament our shrinking congregations. We speak of needing members to fill the pews, do the work and give the money. Those are real needs, yes, but more than anything, we yearn for the feeding of the Spirit that comes with numbers. Each one of us brings God’s Spirit with us everywhere we go. When we gather together, in God’s name, God’s Spirit rises up and overflows among us. Why are we missed when we stay home on Sunday mornings? Our bit of God’s Spirit is missing.

It’s easy to forget that others need us to share our gift of God’s Spirit. We focus on criticism, judgment, sadness, and we horde God’s gift of Spirit. When we do, we diminish ourselves, others and God. Next time you join with a gathering of Christians, intentionally invite God’s Holy Spirit to well up within you and flow out to others. Give God thanks for sharing the Holy Spirit through you.

“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14:26)

 

Just Plunge Right In

Living close to SturgeonLake means that I can find relief from hot weather with a daily dip in the lake’s cool water. On busy days, it can be nine at night, before I think, “Oh yes, I haven’t yet had my swim.” Still, I grab my towel and trot down to the beach. At night, the mosquitoes make sure I don’t stand on the shore cautiously dipping my toes to see if the water’s cold. With their help, I plunge right in. As I stretch out in that cool refreshing water, all the cares of the day recede. I turn my eyes to the stars glistening in the sky, and the moon’s silvery path across the water. God is good, I think.

In some ways, our attitude to God’s call is a lot like my attitude to swimming. We know that doing God’s work daily will bring joy and refreshment, but far too often, when God calls on us with a leadership role, we hang back. Whether it’s chairing a committee, organizing the strawberry supper, teaching Sunday School, or joining the church visitation team, we’re afraid. Will we be able to do it? Do we have the skills?

God doesn’t use mosquitoes or any kind of force to get us to choose God’s way. God does promise to be with us, giving us the strength, the wisdom and the help we need. When we set aside our fears and plunge in, we’re often amazed. Before long, we’re doing the job and enjoying it.

The bottom line is that we cannot enjoy the cool refreshing water as long as we stand on the sea shore. We cannot receive the joy of growing and learning with God without conquering our fear of what lies ahead. We can say yes to leadership. We can plunge right into the water because God is with us. Remember God doesn’t call the equipped. God equips the called. Thanks be to God.

 

“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.  For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”  (2 Timothy 6-7)

God’s Amazing Grace

The picture is at the end. It seems to be the best I can do tonight.

I have a friend who greets the question, “How are you today?” with this response. “Well, I woke up this morning on the right side of the grass. I’m grateful.” I usually chuckle with him because he reminds me that being alive is a gift.

I believe that each day, God gives us twenty-four hours in which to be the best we can be. And God doesn’t abandon us to struggle with that gift. God fills those twenty-four hours with moments of “Amazing Grace”. This time of year, God’s daily package often includes blessed sunshine dancing from flower to flower, or refreshing rain washing the world clean.  Regardless of what is happening in my life, I can look out my living room window, and give thanks for God’s beautiful world. Some days, I wake up excited about a party planned for a friend, a new job, a grandchild coming to visit. On those days, it’s easy to be aware of God’s Amazing Grace.

The problem is that every day is not filled with joy. April and May for my family and me were filled with tough days. As my sisters and I walked with our precious mother on her cancer journey to death, there were days when I didn’t want to open God’s daily gift of life. Exhaustion made the simplest task difficult. My heart ached for my Mom, who endured excruciating pain. Looking back, I know those days were also filled with “God’s Amazing Grace”. Those weeks were a “Holy Time”. God filled them with the privilege of physically caring for my Mom, with laughter in the midst of misery, with conversations about life and death, with strength to continue.

A parcel, no matter how beautifully wrapped, is not truly a gift until it is received and opened. Some days we want to refuse God’s gift of life because it’s difficult. Those feelings are natural and normal. On those days, we need to remember that always, God is with us. Trust that even when life is messy God has given us a day filled with “Amazing Grace”. Make a point of opening your eyes and heart to the Grace God has in store for you on even the greyest of days.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”  (Philippians 4:4)

Graduation

Last Sunday, graduation pictures of church members, a congratulations sign, streamers, and balloons decorated our church sanctuary as we celebrated all the young people of our congregation who were graduating from Senior Kindergarten, grade eight, high school and university. During our minister’s conversation with the children, one young Mom announced that her son had just graduated from diapers to using the potty.
The scripture that morning described the confrontation between the shepherd boy David and the Philistine giant Goliath. Throughout the story, David declares that, strengthened by God’s presence within him, he can use his God-given talents to do God’s work. David needed only the courage of his faith, his ordinary slingshot and five smooth stones to complete the task.
            Although I have never liked this violent story, it carried a message for me and, I hope, for our graduates. During our lifetime, we will be faced with difficult tasks. Sometimes, like David, we’ll be aware of the importance of the task for ourselves and the world. Much of the time, we’ll think that our efforts will go unnoticed. But all of the time, we can draw on God’s strength. We can have courage because we know that God is with us, and has provided the gifts God knows we need to do the job.
            Last Sunday, as we congratulated our young people, I hoped that their time among us had helped them know four things:
1.      They are God’s precious children.
2.      God is always with them, giving them strength and hope.
3.      Their church family supports them with prayer and love.
4.      God asks that they live a life of love for others, for God and for themselves.
 The Lordwho rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear, will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”  1 Samuel 17:37