The Power to Transform
In tomorrow's Gospel reading Jesus tells his disciples,
I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.The Rev. Suzanne E. Watson has preached on this passage saying,
In First Corinthians we are assured that anyone united with the Lord becomes one with him in Spirit. Examples of the ethical content of the Spirit can also be found in today’s gospel reading. For example, Jesus tells us that the Spirit will “prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment.”She goes on top teach more about the work of the Spirit. The full text of her sermon is online here: Pentecost Year B
Because we live in a world that is known by being seen, touched, and measured, the idea that the power of the Holy Spirit is at work within us at all times is a difficult concept for many Christians. But just because we cannot see, touch, or measure the Spirit, does not mean that its power is not at work. Gerard Fuller in his book Stories for All Seasons tells of a beached tanker:All day efforts had been made to return the huge vessel to the water, but with no success. Finally, the captain told all crews and companies to stop; he went to his cabin and waited. When the tide came in that night the waters lifted the thousand-ton tanker off the beach and carried it, light as a feather, back to the deep.The power of the Holy Spirit is like the rising tide – imperceptible, yet with the power to do far more than we can ever imagine. Even when we can’t see it, we can know that the Spirit is at work.
So the question for today is, “How can we, who live in a world that is wary of the mysterious, better connect and trust in the unseen power of the Spirit?”
First, we can remember that the Spirit acts in God’s time, not necessarily ours.
There’s a story about two young priests, both parents of school-aged children, both of whom had lost their spouses due to untimely deaths. One had lost his wife several years before, the other, only recently. One day they met over coffee, and the recently widowed priest asked his friend how he had endured such pain and loss.
The more seasoned priest used a metaphor to answer his friend’s question. He asked him to visualize walking through a beautiful, thick forest of ancient redwoods. Suddenly, there is a terrible sound, and one of the largest redwoods violently crashes to the ground. It is lying out of place, unnaturally on its side, roots exposed. An enormous hole in the forest floor is all that remains of its former life.
The priest then asked his friend to imagine returning to the site of the fallen tree years later. While the hole is still there, and always would be, the edges had softened. Where freshly exposed, barren dirt once was, ferns and wildflowers now grow. Water was now collecting in the hole, and wildlife would drink from the spot. And the fallen tree was slowly becoming part of the landscape. Over time, the scene had been transformed from a brutal, lifeless, unnatural one to one that, while still was out of place – after all, thriving redwoods should not fall in their prime – was at least now producing new life and beauty.
The Power of the Spirit is at work to transform even the most painful of circumstances, but we must remember that God’s time can sometimes take longer than we would wish.
Labels: Gospel reading