Wednesday May 5th 2021
Gathering Prayer: Breathe in me, Holy Spirit, that I may think what is holy. Move me, Holy Spirit, that I may do what is holy. Attract me, Holy Spirit, that I may love what is holy. Guard me, Holy Spirit, that I may keep what is holy. Amen.
StF: 564 – O thou who camest from above
Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.
I went to see Eileen. She didn’t like me very much and made this very clear; ‘people like you with your fancy Holy Spirit, what does that say to ‘real’ Christians like me who do our duty day-by-day.’ There is a whole Immanuel Kant essay to be had on ‘duty’, but it is the Spirit bit to focus on.
Eileen told me her life story of working with children as a School Teacher, of her work in the Church and of caring for her husband with dementia. ‘Never once has this Holy Spirit given me anything,’ she lamented. I asked if she would like the Spirit to come to her. We prayed and a few weeks later there was that great sign of God’s blessing on the table; Jaffa Cakes. “The Spirit came,” she excitedly told me; “I felt this warmth and then Jesus telling me how much he loved me and thanked me for all of my care over the years.”
She didn’t quite reach for the tambourine and still didn’t like the worship group and their ‘confounded drums’, but she had a radiance and calmness that stayed with her until she passed on to be with the Lord.
The Lord Jesus Christ blesses us with spiritual blessings. The blessing of God comes through Jesus and through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit that filled Jesus life fills ours too. The letter to the Ephesians returns over and over to this point. You are a saint, faithful and full of praise because the Spirit of God dwells in you.
In our current culture, most people aren’t interested in spiritual matters; the material world is enough, things that can be seen, touched, felt, handled, yet, when you start to speak to people there is a deep yearning for the spiritual. We see ‘mindfulness’; ‘yoga’; ‘meditation’ all becoming more popular in current literature and in practice. Humankind needs the spiritual mind; that is why the writer is so keen to emphasise praise; this takes us into transcendence and into the realm of the Living God.
Once you are ‘connected’ to the Spirit you yearn for me; ‘As the deer pants for water, so my soul yearns after you’; and we reflect increasingly on the Lord Jesus Christ and his perfect work on our behalf. In Methodist theology this is called ‘Entire Sanctification’; ‘The Path to Perfection’ that Wesley urged his people to strive for in the 18th century and Mr. Sangster reminded the Methodist people of in the 20th century.
This indwelling of the Spirit is what distinguishes the Old Testament from the New. In the Old Testament blessings came, mainly, in a material and temporal way. The years lived; the increased flocks; strength for the battle; prophesy. In the New Testament God’s blessing is poured out on all who wish to receive Christ as their Lord and Saviour; young and old; slave and free; men and women; even little children are welcome in the kingdom of God Christ ushes in.
And, in these few words, don’t forget the three letter word; all spiritual blessings. We have the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians) the gifts of the Spirit (Ephesians, Romans and Corinthians) and we are called to be filled with these fruits and gifts to edify the Church and glorify God. All spiritual blessings are given by Christ to and for you and me; his saints. Amazing!
StF: 370 – Breathe on me breath of God ……because….. StF: 544 – As the deer pants for water, so my soul longs after you.
Spirit of God, Lord and Giver of Life, moving between us and around, like wind or water or fire; breathe into us your freshness that we may awake; cleanse our vision that we may see more clearly; kindle our senses that we may feel more sharply; and give us the courage as you would have us live.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord who taught us to pray: Our Father……………
May the Spirit of God fill you with love and peace, and give you the gifts of his Spirit, and a voice to praise him for ever. Amen.
Rev Gordon Gresswell