Serve when the Spirit Says Serve

March 2010 Pastor's Monthly Newsletter Article

I'm gonna sing when the Spirit says sing, I'm gonna pray when the Spirit says pray, I'm gonna moan when the Spirit says moan, I'm gonna shout when the Spirit says shout, and obey the Spirit of the Lord.

Throughout the history of God’s people, the power of the Holy Spirit has had a strong presence in the midst of the faithful. Isaiah was convinced that “the Spirit of the Lord God is upon me” (Isaiah 61:1) at the beginning of his ministry. Luke understood that “the Holy Spirit descended upon [Jesus] in bodily form like a dove” (Luke 3:22) at his baptism, and soon after led him into the wilderness (Luke 4:1). The early church, throughout the book of Acts, is described as led by the Holy Spirit. The same is true for our beginnings as Lutherans. Martin Luther was convinced that “the Holy Spirit has called me through the Gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, and sanctified and preserved me in true faith” (Small Catechism; Third Article of the Creed).

Recent generations of Lutherans may have been a bit more reluctant than our ancestors to describe in words the role the Spirit is playing in our lives, but God has been present, nonetheless. From time to time, we have said (with the first century disciples), “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us…”

I am often reluctant to claim that I know when and where the Spirit blows. (I am reminded of a Bible study when a parishioner once said, “The Spirit led me to do this” and another member of the church said, “What spirit?”) It seems we need to do so with great humility, acknowledging that the movement of the Spirit rarely happens when and how we expect it to.

That said, it seemed clear that the Spirit was blowing last month, when the people of Saint Peter gathered for their Annual Congregation Meeting. It was a two hour meeting, with a third of our adult members present. It was an inspiring gathering, as we approved plans to redesign our exterior landscaping (including a play yard for children and a labyrinth for quiet prayer), welcomed eight new servants to our Leadership Teams, and dedicated ourselves to be an even more radically welcoming community, where people can gather to experience the grace and power of God. The Spirit was blowing last month – and what is even more encouraging: the people of Saint Peter were faithful in responding. I am deeply grateful to those who have offered their time and energy to serve as leaders, to those who have provided us with financial resources, to those who have prayed daily for this ministry and this pastor, and to those who will step up faithfully in this coming year.

I am convinced that the winds of the Spirit are blowing throughout the church these days. If we are faithful in responding, they will blow us in directions that we can’t always expect, and lead us into situations where we may be less than comfortable. But as this happens, we will experience the unmatched joy of working together in the presence of God.

Where do you sense the winds of the Spirit blowing in your life today? How will you respond by offering yourselves faithfully to the work of God’s kingdom?

God’s peace to you all,

David J. Risendal, Pastor