6th Sunday of Easter
Deacon Tom Vert
Preached: May 17, 2020
“Now where did I put that charger?”
How many times have I said that statement and how many times have I let my batteries run down?
Sometimes it is my iPad, sometimes the Bluetooth device, and of course the #1 culprit is my cell phone!
I don’t mean to let it run down but before you know how it goes, the battery is less than 15% and I’m getting warnings.
It of course happens when I am far from home and I didn’t buy the car charger device, so I’m stuck! Or the time I lost my charging cord at the hotel in a foreign country.
Either way, I’m low on battery, and I have to find a charger to get my functionality back to normal.
Don’t we feel the same way in the spiritual life sometimes?
We are so busy keeping connected to work, friends, family; we have to take care of our homes and cars, and we run out of battery power!
What is this battery power in the spiritual life and how do we ensure that the power never runs down to the warning signal?
We hear the answer in Christ’s words today
“I will ask the Father,
and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always,
the Spirit of truth”
Christ knew he was leaving the disciples and returning to the Father, and he knew that left alone, our battery power would drop quickly, so God sent the Holy Spirit to be our strength, our source of energy in the spiritual life.
Sometimes I think the Holy Spirit is the forgotten part of the Trinity. God the Father gets a lot of focus of course and Christ as redeemer, but the Holy Spirit is just as much a part of the Trinity and we don’t seem to talk about the Spirit as much.
Which is too bad really as the Spirit continues with us now each day and is active in everything that we do in the faith life.
In Baptism, it is always humbling to me to know that the Holy Spirit works through the deacon, or priest as the water is blessed:
“by the power of the Spirit give to the water of this font the grace of your Son”
In the Eucharist, the priest says the words: “make holy, therefore, these gifts, we pray, by sending down your Spirit upon them like the dewfall, so that they may become for us the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ”
In Confirmation, the bishop says: “send your Holy Spirit upon them to be their helper and guide. Give them the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of right judgement and courage, the spirit of knowledge and reverence. Fill them with the spirit of wonder and awe in your presence.”
And then he anoints the candidate, “be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit”.
At these major sacraments; at these key points in our lives we see the Holy Spirit front and centre, but the rest of the year, it seems that the Holy Spirit is much more hidden and lower key.
But if this is the part of the Trinity that God has given for battery power, strength and sustenance, should we speak of it more?
I have been doing a little research on ecumenism lately, as Vatican II has asked us to do, and it is interesting that our Eastern Orthodox brothers and sisters, who have had beautiful liturgies and theology for the same 2000 years, have a much higher emphasis on a daily encounter with the Holy Spirit.
In their morning prayers they begin with this:
“O Heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, you are everywhere and fill all things, Treasury of blessings and giver of life: come and abide in us, cleanse us from every impurity, and save our souls, O good one.”
I love this prayer as it invites the Holy Spirit to come and abide with us, cleanse us from sin and save our souls.
It acknowledges that even though God send the Holy Spirit to guide us and give us strength, he is not forced upon us!
The battery is there, but we have to bring the charger and plug it in!
We see this in the first reading, where the deacon Phillip, has the Samaritans listening to the message with great joy, but it is the power of the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands that embraces them into the Christian life and will be their strength in the persecutions and challenges to come.
In the second reading, Peter tells the Christians that they will have to give an explanation to others about Christ and the reason for their hope – it reminds us what Christ told us in the gospel of Luke – “do not worry about what you will say…for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time”.
Or in the book of Romans: “we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words”.
We are called to plug our charger in to the battery of the Holy Spirit and we are fully charged and ready.
But if we try and rely in ourselves and forget the charger, we quickly run low and our answers will be based only on our own knowledge, which can never give to others the joy, love and caring that we get with the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus tells us “if you love me, you will keep my commandments” and we know the two commandments are to love the Lord your God will all your heart, mind, soul and strength, and to love your neighbour as yourself.
It is hard to keep the commandments if we are self-reliant; but if we are tapped into our battery power daily, through 9 key words “come Holy Spirit, fill the heart of your servant” than we will never have say “Now where did I put that charger?”