Happy Birthday! Today is an amazing day for all Christians for all times. It is Pentecost, the birthday of the church, the celebration of the Holy Spirit dancing with, daring and deepening all creation. The fearful and grieving disciples who felt lost and without direction now became a people with a mission, disciples on a mission. What seemed so hopeless and tragic was now turned into energy, enthusiasm and understanding. On that first Pentecost all that confounded them of Christ’s death became clear. No matter what language, all understood that the Holy Spirit would be with them. Jesus did not leave them (or us) orphans.
All memorable birthdays include special gifts but this birthday takes the cake, so to speak. The gifts of the Holy Spirit permeate our world and our lives but it is up to each generation to bring them to fruition. What are the gifts of the Holy Spirit? They are wisdom, knowledge, understanding, fortitude, good counsel, piety, and fear of the Lord. When we accept and use these gifts they are seen as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
We could all use major doses of those gifts in our families, schools and places of work, in our communities and indeed our world. When we feel overwhelmed with problems that seem beyond solutions, we can reach into our birthday treasure trove, our generous and unconditional gifts of the Holy Spirit. That must have been what the early Christians did in those very dangerous times. Then so must we today who also live in challenging times. These gifts are not for battle or defense or conquering but for cooperation, healing and community building. These gifts embodied often in the least of God’s people, who stand so near we may not see them, can change our hearts and renew the face of the earth.
May the Holy Spirit fill your hearts with peace and joy,