For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
1 Corinthians 12:12-13
No one person or group of people has exclusive insight into the presence or complete nature of the Holy Spirit or the Spirit’s activity. It is so beautiful that the Holy Spirit is manifested differently through each individual with different gifts that are designed to operate within the body of Christ. So, when the body of Christ operates as God intended, when a community of faith pursues and discovers things such as wisdom, knowledge, faith, and healing, it is God who is at work through the the Holy Spirit. God’s Spirit is not bound to our own strategies, systems, or expectations. The Spirit freely chooses to be present among Christians, their worship, and their witness.
To be gifted by the Spirit is not something that happens to some believers but not others. Jesus did not leave us orphaned. It is given to one and all. I am always amazed and thrilled at how the Holy Spirit works in us as a people, when a small child speaks up in a children’s sermon and reflects the gospel in their own words. When someone who has never offered a special offering of music or talent, sings, speaks, or does a piece of art that speaks to our hearts about the goodness, mercy, forgiveness, and glory of God, tears fill my eyes with joy.
When the church council comes to the congregation with a new idea of how we can share the gospel with the community at large, or in support of a missionary, my own spirit jumps for joy. When members of the congregation visit the sick and homebound, I know it is at the urging of the Holy Spirit. When some member of the congregation expresses their passion for an outreach ministry and the body embraces the passion with them, I know the Spirit is at work. We all have gifts to offer for the common good and the praise of God.
Christian community, worship, and ministry—if they are to reflect the fullness of God’s Spirit, will manifest unified diversity.
All of the many gifts and insights that proclaim Jesus and sustain his body must be valued and given an opportunity to share with the whole body. That is how God remains present and active in and through communities of faith. By embracing that affirmation, and renewing it in our congregations, we embrace a commitment to live in light of the Spirit and to mend our personal rivalries and competitions based on status, knowledge, or measures of spirituality.
Yes my friends, without a doubt, at Pentecost the winds of the Holy Spirit are still moving. Thanks be to God!
The Spirit has given each of us gifts. We just have to discover them, and then use them wisely.
- What gifts do you bring to the Church?
- How can you help to build up the community?
- How can your gifts and service give praise to God?
- How do you see Pentecost happening in you and in your church community?
Sue is NLS Spiritual Director, since 2019 and is a retired Lutheran Pastor (ELCA). Active in VdC since 1995, she has served two terms on the Board of the Texas VdC Secretariat, and also on the Texas Gulf Coast VdC Board as Spiritual Director since its start-up in 2017.