We worship God, ever present in the Holy Spirit; who brings this Gospel to fruition, assures us of forgiveness, strengthens us to do God’s will, and makes us sisters and brothers of Jesus, sons and daughters of God.
John 14: 25-27
‘I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.’
Our URC Statement of Faith seems to be closer to John’s Gospel when it comes to the Holy Spirit than the story told in Acts 2. In Luke’s second act to his Gospel, we have a sound like the rush of a violent wind, tongues like fire, bewildered crowds, the appearance of intoxication and sermons about ‘the last days’. In John’s Gospel the Holy Spirit is an all-round quieter spirit: a ‘helper’, a teacher, a restorer and sustainer of memory, a comforter and peace bearer. In Acts 2 there is a great deal of trouble, in John 14 a sense of trouble quelled and overcome.
But of course if the Holy Spirit really does remind us of all that Jesus ever said, and if the Holy Spirit really does make us sisters and brothers of Jesus, sons and daughters of God, then we shall need to find our peace in the midst of new storms. We may be comforted, but not so much in the sense of being let off any kind of hook, but prepared with the strength we shall need effectively to be those who remain in the world once Jesus has ascended. If the Holy Spirit is truly the way in which God is always present in the world, then there is no avoiding the impact of that. If the Gospel is brought to fruition by the Spirit, then this is the same Gospel that challenges inequality and pain, that rises up against the things that harm and hurt. To keep the memory of Jesus alive, to become so close to him that we are as good as his brothers and sisters, means that we shall have trouble. And we shall need the Holy Spirit to give us grace to be at peace with that.
Come Holy Spirit, remind us of Jesus, teach us to know him, and help us to bear the cost of that searing memory of an overwhelming Gospel, and world changing power. Give us grace to be at peace with what follows from following him, and give us your strength to endure and embrace whatever comes, as we join our spirits to yours and as you anoint us each new day, Amen.
The Rev’d Dr Susan Durber is minister of Taunton URC and Moderator of the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches