We are accustomed in the church to speak of the Holy Spirit being given to everyone. We speak of it in Baptism — “You are sealed by the Holy Spirit in Baptism and marked as Christ’s own forever.” We may speak of it as a gift that comes later in life. Some traditions speak of Baptism in the Holy Spirit. But the assumption in common is that the Holy Spirit is available to all believers, not just a select few.
But it was not always so. The Old Testament speaks of the Holy Spirit, literally the ‘wind of God,’ as “moving over the waters” in creation, and as being given to prophets, kings and judges, the specially anointed leaders of the people. Today’s lesson from Joel foretells a time when it will no longer be so limited: “I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female slaves, in those days, I will pour out my spirit.” (Joel 2:28-29, click here for the full passage.) While we may view things a little differently today, it is hard to overstate how radical and shocking to the people of Joel’s day would have been the idea that the special empowerment of God would be given not just to all men, but to women and slaves as well!
This prophecy is fulfilled in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. We now have the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of wisdom, strength, truth, comfort and so much more, available to all believers. In fact, as we declare in Baptism, given to all believers. Of course, we can ignore this gift. We can push it away and live as though it isn’t there. Or, we can let it go!
I encourage you in your own prayer time to invite God to put His Holy Spirit to work within you. Welcome, and work with, the changes He would bring. Like so many things with God, it is not simply a matter of inviting God to take care of your problems, but of inviting Him to enter the struggle with you.
Invite Him today, get to work, and see what happens!
This column appeared in the October 27, 2019 edition of St. John’s eNews. Click here for the complete issue.
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