symbol of God pouring out his spirit

Prepare for Pentecost

Today we have arrived at the peak of all blessings. We have reached the capital of feasts. We have obtained the very fruit of the Lord’s promise.

John Chrysostom

Pentecost is one of the holiest, happiest days of the Christian year. Coming 10 days after the celebration of the risen Christ’s ascension into heaven, Pentecost commemorates the gift of the Holy Spirit upon the first Christians. This was the day that Peter stepped forward to speak to the crowd. As a result, thousands of people who first thought the Christians were drunk at 9 a.m. decided that Jesus really was the Messiah after all.

How can we prepare for this day, which falls on May 28th this year? We have time to devote ourselves to opening up to the power of the Holy Spirit before Pentecost. Here are a few intentional ways to do so.

  • Before Pentecost, every time you see a bird, say “Come, Holy Spirit.” This honors the symbol of the dove representing the Spirit. But it also opens us up to calling on the Holy Spirit throughout the day.
  • Review your Lenten resolutions. How did it go? Pray over them again. Perhaps you should continue doing some of them, in part or in full.
  • Listen to songs about the Holy Spirit. Several in this list have similar names, but they are different songs.
    • “Come Holy Spirit” by Vineyard Music
    • “The Change in Me” by Casting Crowns
    • “Spirit of the Living God” by Vertical Worship
    • “Spirit of the Living God” (Fall Afresh on Me) by Phil Wickham
    • “Spirit Fall” by Chris Tomlin
    • “Fresh Wind” by Hillsong Worship
    • “Come Holy Spirit (Need You Now)” by New Wine Worship
  • Meditate over the role of the Holy Spirit in your life. I think about the traditional gifts of the Spirit:
    • Wisdom
    • Understanding
    • Counsel
    • Fortitude
    • Knowledge
    • Piety
    • Fear of God
  • Pray that God with bless you with the graces necessary for you to demonstrate the fruits of the Holy Spirit:
    • Love
    • Joy
    • Peace
    • Patience
    • Kindness
    • Goodness
    • Faithfulness
    • Gentleness
    • Self-control

Preparing for Pentecost Sunday can bring more intention to your life.

The Church in Crisis: Jesus Who?

“Is the church in crisis? If so, what?” That’s the answer I found in a notebook I retrieved to go a community meeting.

I don’t even remember the meeting where we discussed the question. But my answer is there: “The crisis is that the truth of Jesus has been obscured, often by His own people.”

I wrote it about a year ago, and it’s more true that ever.

Exhibit A: The failure of my Lenten pledge.

I wanted to find a group of committed Christians to deepen my experience of contemplative prayer. The first two Christian groups I tried were miles away from the truth about Jesus. For example, this is the meditation passage I was sent this week from one of the groups:

“Jesus answered: I am the way of love, I am the truth of love, and I am the life of love. No one comes to God except through love.”

Hmmm, that’s not what my Bible says. It would be fairly easy for these folks to persuade others that all religions worship the same God. Because some faiths believe in multiple gods, that’s not really possible. .

Exhibit B: Christian nationalism

Americans aren’t God’s chosen people. Look it up. Self-righteousness, particularly when exhibited with hate and vile name calling, doesn’t reflect God’s character. It makes Jesus look bad when people say they are Christians and hate others, particularly other Christians. These days many people don’t even bother to keep quiet about it.

Exhibit C: Hypocrites

Religious leaders who are hypocrites or abuse their position, hurting others, are poor reflections of Jesus. In fact, the Bible indicates that they are among Jesus’ least favorite people.

I believe, from experience, that a close relationship with Jesus results in love, joy, peace, patience and the other fruits of the spirit. The Lord teaches that you can tell a good tree by its fruit.

How can we reflect the truth about Jesus? Through kindness. Through empathy. Generosity. Listening to understand. Respect. But, most of all, love.

Non-Christians watch Christians. When they see exhibits A, B and C, they think that is who Jesus is. Those of us that want the world to know Christ need to strive for holiness. So when people think “Jesus who?” they can see He’s reflected in your behavior.