A Power that Helps Us in our Weakness
I frequently forget that the Holy Spirit is the one leading the church. Why? Because I have been trained to think that as the Rector of a church I should have answers. After all communities need strong leadership! Therefore, I should be able to figure out what we need to do. Thankfully, the following happens on a regular basis. As I am pondering a course of action, I come up empty. I hit the wall. No great insights are given. At that moment, I can either double down on relying on my own resources or acknowledge that I need help and begin to rely on a power beyond myself. In the New Testament that power is the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is the dynamic force that leads the church after Jesus’ death and resurrection. The Spirit—not Peter, John, James or Paul—ultimately guides the disciples in the Acts of the Apostles. Paul reminds his early church communities that “the Spirit helps us in our weakness” (Rom. 8:26). The earliest followers are not left on their own; they have a guiding force in their midst. During his farewell discourse (John 13-17), Jesus tells his disciples that when he is gone the “Advocate”, the “Spirit of truth” will come and be with them. This presence will come and “guide them into all the truth.” There may be human leaders of church communities, but the true leader is the Spirit.
It is not just rectors who forget that the guiding force in life is the Holy Spirit. It is true for all the faithful in their daily life and work. The Spirit poured out on the church at Pentecost was poured out on everyone. It is what parents need to rely on as they raise their children. Parents are unusually prone to thinking that they should have all the answers when it comes to parenting, which of course fills parents with anxiety. What if parents believed that there is a presence that is going to lead them and their children into a truth-filled future. What if they believed that it was not all up to them? It is what people need who are making vocational decisions. Can they trust that amidst all the career counseling and aptitude tests there is a power at work opening up a life-giving path? It is what spouses need as they grieve the loss of a life-long partner. Is it just possible that there is a presence that will accompany them in their grief and sustain them during this difficult time?
Next time your resources come to an end, may that be an occasion to rely on a power beyond yourself.