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Come, Holy Spirit

by The Rev Beth Knowlton on May 24, 2023

On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’”
—from John 7:37-39

This Sunday we celebrate the great feast of Pentecost, the culmination of the Easter Season as we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit. Wearing red is a way to remind ourselves that we are bearers of that Spirit. This Sunday, we will bid Matt Wise farewell as he begins a time of sabbatical refreshment. As our own rhythms shift, can we too become curious about what it means for us to bear the Holy Spirit into the world? 

This passage from John is telling. Jesus asks us to start with ourselves. Are we thirsty? We cannot bear hope into the world if we are in a state of depletion. We also cannot find the living water without a relationship with God. We are in a constant state of fluctuating between offering the living water in the world and needing to replenish it within ourselves. To tend our own relationship with God and our service in the world requires that we prioritize our own spiritual practices. Our lives are never in perfect balance, but for me, I’m aware that much of spiritual practice is about developing the ability to catch myself more quickly when I am out of balance.

Today represents an important and tragic anniversary in our diocese. The shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde continues to linger in our hearts and souls as we try to imagine a world that is more of the Kingdom and less full of senseless violence and the death of innocents. It is vital from a place of faithfulness to ask for the Spirit’s direction in the hardest of places of our world. You may find yourself utterly hopeless as you remember Uvalde. You may rather not remember such a day of sadness. The Holy Spirit reminds us that we are about Kingdom work and that we are called to make small decisions each day. As we faithfully show up and tend the needs and concerns presented to us, we are doing Kingdom work. 

My friend and colleague, the Rev. Dr. Mike Marsh, who serves in Uvalde, mentioned this prayer to me this week. It’s in honor of the martyr Oscar Romero and helps frame my prayer for the Spirit’s work among and through us.

A Prayer of Oscar Romero
It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.
The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is even beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction
of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete,
which is a way of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the Church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
This is what we are about.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted,
knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces effects far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything,
and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something,
and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results,
but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders;
ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future that is not our own.

—written by Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw

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