North Highland United Methodist Church
Friday, November 27, 2020
Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors

August 2013

Stuff. For a small not-so-elegant word, stuff encompasses a whole lot of territory! Our days and lives are full of stuff—stuff to do or put away or accomplish. Personally my life has centered around stuff going in and out of boxes. It’s safe to say I put a lot of stuff in boxes and now some has been unpacked and put to use, some deemed no longer necessary and still some was happily taken home by my niece who came for a visit. That’s the stuff that has dominated a lot of my time the past few weeks, and now the stuff of ministry here is gradually becoming a part of my daily activity and thought.
Then there is the personal stuff within each of us—our likes, dislikes, joys, sorrows, accomplishments, hope, dreams and fears. The events that make up our various spiritual journeys, both positive and negative become our spiritual stuff. And all of these all melded together makes us who we are. Of all of the things that are within us, the ultimate is the gift of the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Today we continue to experience God's breath, God's Spirit. As one of our creeds puts it, "We believe in the Holy Spirit, God present with us for guidance, for comfort, and for strength" (The United Methodist Hymnal, No. 884). We sense the Spirit in time alone—perhaps in prayer, in our study of the Scriptures, in reflection on a difficult decision, or in the memory of a loved one. The Spirit's touch is intensely personal.
Perhaps we're even more aware of the Holy Spirit in the community of believers—the congregation, the church school class or fellowship group, the soup kitchen, the planning committee, the prayer meeting, the family. Somehow the Spirit speaks through the thoughtful and loving interaction of God's people. The Holy Spirit, who brought the church into being, is still guiding and upholding it, if we will but listen.
In the gifts we receive
How does the Holy Spirit affect our lives? By changing us! By renewing us and by strengthening us for the work of ministry.
· Fruits: Jesus said, "You will know them by their fruits" (Matthew 7:16). What sort of fruit? Paul asserts that "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control" (Galatians 5:22).
· Gifts: Paul also writes that the Spirit bestows spiritual gifts on believers. In 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 he lists nine, which vary from one person to another: the utterance of wisdom, the utterance of knowledge, faith, healing, working of miracles, prophecy, the discernment of spirits, various kinds of tongues, and the interpretation of tongues.
These fruits and gifts are not of our own achievement. They and others are the outgrowth of the Spirit's work in us, by grace, through our faith in Jesus the Christ. And they are not given for personal gain. Through these fruits and gifts, the Holy Spirit empowers us for ministry in the world.
Peace and blessings,
Pastor Lou