Sustaining Peace: Dwelling in the Word November 29, 2020

Advent Candles by lapenn on flickr.com

Bible Reading:  John 14:22-31 NRSV

22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to [Jesus], “Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.  25 “I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe. 30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over me; 31 but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us be on our way.  This is the Gospel of the Lord.  Praise to You, O Christ.

ELCA Book of Faith Devotional Questions:

1.  What scares, confuses, or challenges me in this text?  What do I have questions about?

2.  What delights or comforts me in this text?  What is my favorite part, and why? 

3.  What stories or memories does this text stir up in me?  How does this story intersect with my life? 

4.  What is God up to in this text?  What is God calling me to do or to be because of this message?

Dwelling in the Word

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ, grace to you and peace, from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Since the very beginning of the pandemic, Patrick has been leading Morning Prayer online three days per week with a small group of regulars.  Each time, we pray, listen to music, and dive deep into study of the Word of God and what it means in our lives.  My favorite part of these times together, however, comes at the very end.  We end by wishing peace to one another, and then someone always says, “Blessings for your day.”  Wishing peace can be a powerful thing, can’t it?  It can bring calm to a storm, healing to relationships, and a firm anchor to which we can tether our lives.  And that is exactly what Jesus is giving to his disciples in our text for today.

         This section is not usually read during the first Sunday in Advent, but it does go with the Advent theme of peace, and perhaps especially peace in our time.  It comes from a section of John called “The Farewell Discourse,” and is basically Jesus’ final sermon on Maundy Thursday, meant to strengthen the disciples and give them direction after he is gone. 

One of the disciples asks why it is that they, the disciples, get to see Jesus as he really is, and not the whole world.  Jesus answers them by reminding them of the commandment to love.  This mutual love, which the disciples have for Jesus, for one another, and for the world, will result in the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  God will abide, make a home, in the disciples.  They will always be with God, and God will always be with them.  The Holy Spirit will teach, remind, and empower them to do God’s work in the world.

         Then, Jesus gives the disciples the gift of peace.  It is more than a standard greeting, or a signature sign off phrase.  It is the peace of Christ, the type of peace which Paul describes in Philippians 4 as “the peace of God, which passes all understanding,” which will “guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  It is a deep abiding peace, a peace which, as I said before, provides an anchor to tether to, even amidst the roughest storms of life.

         The disciples don’t realize it yet, but they are really about to go through some times of storm.  Jesus is going to be arrested, tried, and killed as an enemy of state.  They will scatter, and hide, and be faithless.  They will see the miracle of Easter, and still not understand.  The going is about to get incredibly rough.  And these words will sustain them.  These words will get them through.  The abiding peace of God in Christ, dwelling in and among them, will lead them out the other side and give them the courage to found a Christian Community of Care which abides, even to this day.

         So what does this have to do with you and me, with our lives in this time and place?  This gift of peace in Christ is ours to claim as well.  It is the Holy Spirit working in and though us, to bring calm into the storms of our lives, and the lives of those whom God puts in our path.  This gift of peace in Christ has the power to heal our relationships, to help us to put aside combative words, to reach out to one another in love, maybe especially when we cannot do it by our own power or might.  And this peace holds us fast to Christ, so that the waves do not overwhelm us, the sting of death does not overtake us, and we are able to look up, and out, in hope of a brighter tomorrow.

         Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”  Peace be with you, dear sisters and brothers in Christ, now and in every tomorrow.  I promise to hold you, in prayer and in love.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

In Christ, Pastor Breen

Companions on the Journey: Dwelling in the Word November 15, 2020

Walk for Water September 2018

Reading:  Luke 24:13-35 (NRSV)

13 Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16 but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” 19 He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. 22 Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 23 and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” 25 Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! 26 Was it not necessary that the Messiahshould suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” 27 Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.            28 As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 29 But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” 33 That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. 34 They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread. 

ELCA Book of Faith Devotional Questions:

1.  What scares, confuses, or challenges me in this text?  What do I have questions about? In this text, I am challenged that the eyes of the disciples were kept from recognizing Jesus.  This is not unique among Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances; there is something about Jesus that is different, changed, unrecognizable.  Perhaps it is that they never expected to see him again.  Indeed, in this text, they even have all the information that they need, they even say that the women saw that the tomb was empty, and they do not yet believe.  I think that sometimes our eyes are shut, as well.  We cannot see, or believe, without the help of others who come alongside us.  Who are your companions on your faith journey?

2.  What delights or comforts me in this text?  What is my favorite part, and why?  I really delight in who Jesus is for the disciples in this text.  First, he comes alongside them.  Then, he asks questions, “What are you discussing?” and “What things?” and really listens to their answers.  Next, he opens their minds to understand the scriptures.  He explains to them God’s entire plan of salvation, right down to the moment in which they find themselves, running away from Jerusalem on the Emmaus Road.  Finally, he is revealed at the table, in fellowship, in the breaking of the bread.  Where do you find delight in this text?  What about the risen Jesus is comforting to you?

3.  What stories or memories does this text stir up in me?  How does this story intersect with my life?  As I have walked alongside the Tri-Saints over the past eight years, this story has become a model for pastoral ministry for me.  When I arrived, I was a stranger to you.  It was my job to ask questions, to hear your stories, to learn which roads of life you were walking along.  I have continued to walk alongside you, and have striven to open your minds to the scriptures, to hear your faith stories, and to connect the work of God to your daily work.  And we have gathered, in so many and various ways, to break bread together, to find mutual consolation, and to meet Jesus in the Word and the Sacraments.  We have been companions on the road for a good long season.  What stories would you tell about our past eight years?  What memories will you hold onto?  Let go of? Treasure?

4.  What is God up to in this text?  What is God calling me to do or to be because of this message?  We have arrived at the point in our mutual ministry where it is time for me to travel on down the road.  Through much prayer and discernment, I have discovered that I am being “called to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown.”  I pray that God will “give us faith to out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” (ELW pg. 317)

In Christ, Pastor Breen

Refuge, Strength, and Stillness: Dwelling in the Word October 25, 2020

Rapperswil Castle at Dawn by lschlagenhauf on flickr.com

Reading:  Psalm 46 (NRSV)

God is our refuge and strength,
    a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
    though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
though its waters roar and foam,
    though the mountains tremble with its tumult.Selah

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved;
    God will help it when the morning dawns.
The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter;
    he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

Come, behold the works of the Lord;
    see what desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
    he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear;
    he burns the shields with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God!
    I am exalted among the nations,
    I am exalted in the earth.”
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

ELCA Book of Faith Devotional Questions:

1.  What scares, confuses, or challenges me in this text?  What do I have questions about? I am challenged by all of the chaos in this psalm.  The earth changes.  The mountains shake.  The waters roar and foam.  There is desolation.  There are weapons of war being crumbled to dust.  Although it is probably an accurate description of life here on earth, I certainly wish it wasn’t so.  I wish that being a believer meant that nothing bad ever happened.  I wish it meant that we are guaranteed smooth sailing.  This psalmist doesn’t let us off the hook into the land of wishing though; the psalmist confronts the real chaos of life head on.  Where, in your life, do you experience chaos?  Violence?  Unsettling forces beyond your control?

2.  What delights or comforts me in this text?  What is my favorite part, and why?  Last year, we used this Psalm for our first quarter of Sabbath Sunday, with verse one as our memory verse:  “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”  I hope that it is familiar to you, and something that you have taken to heart in your own life of faith.  This time as I read it, I most noticed the word “strength.”  Usually, when I come to this Psalm, I emphasize the “refuge” aspects of God.  God as a place to turn, to run to, to hide away in.  When I instead emphasize the word “strength,” it reminds me that God is the source of my strength.  This empowers me, not just to go to God to run and hide, but to be grounded in the strength beyond ordinary human strength that comes from God alone.  What words or phrase stick with you?  How do these images for God resonate with you?

3.  What stories or memories does this text stir up in me?  How does this story intersect with my life?  Another familiar phrase in this Psalm comes from verse 10, “Be still, and know that I am God.”  This command reminds me most of the natural world.  I remember times when it has been incredibly windy, and then wind stills.  Or times during dawn or dusk, when even the animals seem to take a deep breath and be still.  I remember being at our lake cabin in the summer a marveling over the water when it is as still and reflective as glass.  When, in your life, have you had the opportunity to be still?  What was that experience like for you?

4.  What is God up to in this text?  What is God calling me to do or to be because of this message?  This week, God is calling me to remember that God is both refuge AND strength, and a very present help in trouble.  I am also reminded of an amazing centering practice with verse ten, where you slowly (one syllable per inhale or exhale) say the words, “Be still and know that I AM God.”  Each time that you cycle through the verse, you remove the last word of the sentence, until you only have “Be” left.  It is a great way to slow down, to come to stillness, to really dwell in a fragment of scripture.  I commend the practice to you.

May God continue to bless us with places of refuge, of strength, of stillness and knowing, both now and in the days to come.

In Christ,  Pastor Breen      

Psalm 46 retrieved from https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=psalm+46&version=NRSV

Wilderness: Dwelling in the Word March 2020

photo of Painted Desert National Wilderness Area by Breen Sipes

Gospel: Matthew 4:1-11 (NRSV)

1Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. 3The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4But he answered, “It is written,
 ‘One does not live by bread alone,
  but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”
  5Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written,
 ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’
  and ‘On their hands they will bear you up,
 so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’ ”
7Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ”
  8Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; 9and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written,
 ‘Worship the Lord your God,
  and serve only him.’ ”
11Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.

ELCA Book of Faith Devotional Questions:

1.  What scares, confuses, or challenges me in this text?  What do I have questions about? 

This is the text which comes directly after Jesus’ baptism.  In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus comes up out of the waters, the heavens are ripped open, and the spirit alights on him like a dove.  Then, a voice from heaven says, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well-pleased.”  This is an auspicious beginning to Jesus’ earthly ministry.  However, the very next line is this:  “Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.”  Not a very auspicious beginning.  Straight from baptism to temptation by the devil?  I find this very challenging.  Why is this how it works?  Why not a trail period, or a chance for Jesus to do some good things, some easy things?

          Perhaps I am challenged by this because I also fear that it is the shape of our baptismal life.  When one of my mentors would baptize, she would always say that baptism doesn’t promise us a life without rain or storms, but rather that God goes with us, through them.  Maybe it is a mark of Jesus’ true humanity that he was tempted, just as we are.  Maybe it is a mark of Jesus’ humanity that he spends time in the wilderness, just as we do when we have lost our way.  And maybe this episode reminds that Jesus is also the Son of God, able to resist the pull of the devil in ways that we would find unimaginable.  He is God, and we are not.

2.  What delights me in this text?  What is my favorite part, and why?

I love how dramatic this story is.  I can imagine this face off between the devil and Jesus, with the devil as slick as a snake and the soundtrack rising to an uncertain climax as we await each of Jesus’ answers.  It is a battle of epic proportions, and fought only with words.  It is even a tale with a happy ending, and the arrival of angels to top off the victory!

3.  What stories or memories does this text stir up in me?  How does this story connect to my life? 

This story reminds me of the time that my husband Patrick and I spent in the Painted Desert during our honeymoon.  We had visited lots of National Parks during our trip (The Grand Canyon, the Petrified Forest, etc.), and it seemed that National Parks were a place for a lot of rules:  Don’t stray off the path!  Don’t touch anything!  Don’t feed the animals!   Park only in designated areas!  By contrast, our trip to the Painted Desert seemed freeing.  It is designated, not as a National Park, but as a Wilderness Area, and as such, there were no paths to follow or places to park.  But with that lack of rules came dire warnings:  Tell a Park Ranger where you are planning to go, so if you don’t come back we know where to begin searching.  The sun goes down quickly in the desert; keep track of the time so you don’t get stuck somewhere remote overnight.  And my favorite:  Bubonic Plague is a reality; don’t get friendly with the wildlife.  This experience in the wilderness gave us a sense of freedom with just a hint of danger.  Do what you want, but beware that your consequences have actions.  I still can’t wait to go back!

4.  What is God up to in this text?  What is God calling me to do or to be because of this message?

          God is with Jesus just as God is with us.  God gives Jesus the strength to endure, just as God gives Jesus the strength to endure.  God sends to us to the wilderness to learn and to grow, and has angels waiting for us on the other side. 

          I am looking forward to learning alongside you through this familiar text this month.  May God bless our Lenten journeys into the wilderness, as well.

In Christ,

Pastor Breen Marie Sipes

Check out our other Lenten Devotional Resources here:

Easter Vigil Wednesday Night Devotions: https://pbsipes.files.wordpress.com/2020/02/easter-vigil-devotion-book-2020-website.pdf

Lent Prayer Journal: https://pbsipes.files.wordpress.com/2020/02/lent-prayer-journal-2020.pdf

Sunday Gospel Devotions: https://familygodtime.wordpress.com/tag/lent-2020/

Bright Cloud: Dwelling in the Word February 2020

“Cloud Lovers” by moonjazz on flickr.com

Matthew 17:1-9 (NRSV)

1Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. 2And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. 3Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. 4Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 5While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” 6When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. 7But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” 8And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone.

  9As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

ELCA Book of Faith Devotional Questions:

1.  What scares, confuses, or challenges me in this text?  What do I have questions about? 

I have always thought that this was a very strange text.  Sometimes, I think, we accept texts like this because we have heard them so many times over the course of our lives.  But, seriously, think about it.  A hike up a high mountain, Jesus is transfigured, his face like the sun, and his clothes dazzling white, and then two people who have been dead for centuries show up.  Not only all of that, but the voice of God!  If I were one of the disciples, I think I would wonder if I was dreaming at the least, and worry about my sanity at the worst.  Maybe that’s why Jesus brought three of them.  Each could corroborate the other’s story, when the time came to tell it to others.

I am also challenged by this text because although I have heard many peoples’ stories of their physical encounters with God, it always seems to me that mountaintop experiences don’t last.  They give us lots of energy and drive in the moment, but that excitement, that certainty fades away with time until we wonder if it ever really happened at all.  Why does God gives us these experiences, if they fade in this way?

2.  What delights me in this text?  What is my favorite part, and why?

One thing that I never noticed before was that Jesus brings the same disciples that he first calls from being fishermen to being fishers of people (with the exception of Andrew…maybe he was sick that day).  Those who are with him at the beginning are still with him at the end.

          Another thing which delights me is that the words God says in Jesus’ Baptism still hold true just as he is about to enter Jerusalem and endure the cross.  He has been at the business of ministry for three years, and God still claims him, still loves him, is still well pleased with him.  For the benefit of the disciples, God adds, “Listen to him.”  We know that what Jesus is going to have to say is going to be hard to hear, so I wonder if this command is also encouragement.  “Hear him,” God says, “and take heart.”

3.  What stories or memories does this text stir up in me?  How does this story connect to my life? 

          This episode in Jesus’ life reminds me from a scene in the movie The Neverending Storyhttps://youtu.be/73dqr81DDyc The main character in the fantasy world, Atreyu, has to face his true self in a magic mirror before he can go through the gate.  Who he meets is the little boy reading the Neverending Story book in the attic of his school.  It makes me wonder who I would see if I had to face the same mirror.  It also makes me thankful for the promises given to us in baptism, where God names us, claims us, forgives us, and saves us.  Maybe, like Jesus, when we are transfigured, we will reflect the face of God!

4.  What is God up to in this text?  What is God calling me to do or to be because of this message?

          In this text, God is revealing Jesus’ true identity to his closest followers.  God speaks, and names Jesus as Son and Beloved.  God commands the disciples, and us, to listen to Jesus.  And Jesus himself tells the disciples to “Get up, and do not be afraid.”  Perhaps this story can help us, too, to get up and cast away our fear, to witness the love of Jesus and to tell others what we have heard and seen.  As we conclude the season of Epiphany light, may your light shine with the love of Jesus for the sake of the world.  I am looking forward to seeing where God leads us in our Dwelling in the Word together this month!

In Christ,

Pastor Breen Marie Sipes

Come & Follow: Dwelling in the Word January 2020

Kerala by sandeepachetan on flickr.com

Matthew 4:12-23 (NRSV)

12Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. 13He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
15“Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali,
  on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—
16the people who sat in darkness
  have seen a great light,
 and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death
  light has dawned.”
17From that time Jesus began to proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

  18As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. 19And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” 20Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. 22Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.

  23Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people.

ELCA Book of Faith Devotional Questions:

1.  What scares, confuses, or challenges me in this text?  What do I have questions about? 

2.  What delights me in this text?  What is my favorite part, and why?

3.  What stories or memories does this text stir up in me?  How does this story connect to my life? 

4.  What is God up to in this text?  What is God calling me to do or to be because of this message?

Holy Spirit, Holy Spirit, Come to Us

pentecost header FIRE by stbjr

Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you.
But when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing through.
Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I.
But when the trees bow down their heads,
The wind is passing by. (Christina Rosetti)

On Pentecost Sunday, I reflected back to you that you don’t think that we, as the Tri-Saints, or Lutherans for that matter, talk about the Holy Spirit enough.  In my sermon that day, I gave you several instances of the Holy Spirit showing up in scripture, often in very different and surprising ways.  I offered all of these instances as an out-pouring of the Holy Spirit that could carry us through the summer.  As you read the passages which follow, which images of the Holy Spirit grab hold of you?  Carry them with you in your devotional time this summer.  Invite the Holy Spirit to work on you, both through these texts, and through the places and ways in which the Holy Spirit calls you to be a Child of God in the world.  It just might change your life…

    • Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. (Romans 8:26 NRSV)
    • God said to Elijah, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. (2 Kings 19:11-12 NRSV)
    • All who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God (Romans 8:14-16 NRSV)
    • In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.  (Genesis 1:1-2 NRSV)
    • If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. 17 This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.  (John 14:15-17 NRSV)
    • When the day of Pentecost had come, the disciples were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. (Acts 2:1-4 NRSV)
    • Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” (John 20:21-23 NRSV)
    • But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. (John 14:26)

 

Who has seen the Spirit?
Neither I nor you.
But when our prayers are heard by God,
The Spirit’s passing through.
Who has seen the Spirit?
Neither you nor I.
But when our hearts are set on fire,
The Spirit’s passing by. (Breen Sipes)

Holy Spirit, Holy Spirit, come to us.  Amen.