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"Did you know the Holy Spirit is inside us, Billy?" [Billy looks at his stomach fearfully]
Illustration: Phil Day

The Spirit is abroad in the world

A couple of weeks ago, one Friday night, the youth group from St Stephen’s Roman Catholic Church in Brisbane hit the streets. They introduced themselves to people and told them that the cathedral was open for prayer; that they were welcome to go in, pray about something that was on their mind or troubling them, and light a candle as a symbol of their prayer.

Late that night they discovered 278 candles had been lit and placed in the votive box.

The Spirit of God is abroad in the world. It is bearing witness to people’s hearts that God is present to them.

It is inviting them into relationship. The Spirit is active and alive.

Some associate the Spirit with ecstatic utterances, with experiences of transcendence. That’s fair enough, but our tradition bears witness to the Spirit’s activity as much broader than that.

In the Old Testament, as recorded in Exodus, God gave Bezalel and Oholiab the Spirit to craft wood and metal.

(I reckon the ability to interpret financial reports needs the power of the Spirit.) Paul speaks of the Spirit quickening creation to labour as in childbirth for the revelation of the children of God.

A key word must be “enlivener”. Giving power to that youth group to open doors to faith; giving those who responded hope and assurance that their prayer was heard.

At the Synod in Session, the members identified a call to seek for the Holy Spirit to act in the church as a defibrillator. Defibrillators revive an arrhythmic heart; they give the heart an opportunity to beat again to its natural rhythm.

So, what do you reckon?

How’s your heart ticking over?

Is it in the rhythms of the gospel?

If worship is anything, it’s the space where our hearts have opportunity for an overhaul.

Adoration gets our blood going. Confession cleans out the gunk. Hearing the word and receiving the sacraments feeds it with good things. Responding to the word preps it for service.

So don’t miss the opportunity for a clean out. Retreats, quiet days, spiritual direction? Well they’re like major services in in the lifecycle of a machine. We all need them.

Rev David Baker
Moderator, Queensland Synod

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