“Live by the Spirit.” What exactly does that mean? Whenever we are asked to do something generally the first thing we want to know is, “to what benefit is that to me?” If in fact this is our first thought we are immediately thinking “in the flesh.” Already we are contradicting who we say that we are in the Spirit. The “What’s in it for me?” is a natural response but we are not called to live the natural life, but rather a supernatural one attributed by a force beyond a natural understanding. Life in the Spirit is not about wanting what other people have but rather having what other people want.
By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. Gal. 5:16-24
Lord, I love the house in which you dwell and the place where your glory abides. Psalm 26:8 If we expand on the word “dwell” this passage of Psalm might read something like this; Lord, I love the house in which you live, think, speak and linger. The house becomes a place of activity in constant motion, refreshing itself throughout time as it lives to love God and neighbor as self, thinks on the true, noble and pure, speaks truth and holds to the presence of being. It is a house that lingers because of the joy, pleasure and glory of being connected to its builder, strengthened by its faith and justified by its works.
…just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead. James 2:14-26
Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 1Corinthians 3:16
And by faith in his name, his name itself has made this man strong. Acts 3:1-10
While I was serving as a chaplain at a hospital, I met a woman battling cancer. It was her second time around and she was determined to beat it. Still rather new in my position she was the first person I met faced with this condition who had not accepted the fact that she may die. In my training we were instructed not to encourage things that we ourselves really could not guarantee. For her, God was all about miracles. Since I couldn’t guarantee life or death (in the physical) I offered her prayer. Together we gave thanks for the gift of the Holy Spirit. During this visit I was assured that life in the Spirit is definitely not a defense mechanism to protect us from what appears to be uncertain. It is instead a vehicle for strength and courage that readies us for what is certain. The Lord is risen indeed!
‘Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Luke 24:36b-48
…who turns the rock into a pool of water, the flint into a spring of water. Psalm 114:8
I beg of you…, become as I am, for I also have become as you are. Gal. 4:12-20 Paul may have been disappointed, but I don’t believe that he took it personal when the Galatians became persuaded by the Jews to follow ceremonial laws over their relationship to Christ in faith.
This past Sunday I forgot to put on my chasuble (sleeveless outer garment) for the Eucharist. It wasn’t until after the service that I had even recognized the fact that I did not put it on. It happens on occasion and I don’t generally think much about it because it really has nothing to do with the celebration of communion. It’s a man-made addition to the ceremony, in which no one else but the priest gets dressed for the feast, thus simply setting the priest a apart, for which in the Episcopal Church, only the priest can do. However, I often wonder what members of the congregation may be thinking. I wonder if some take offense because somehow being “set apart” with traditions and rituals puts things in perspective for them. I truly enjoy the traditions of my church. As a priest I am very grateful for the opportunity to serve God in the way his people have raised me up to serve. But the reality is that I too am apart of the congregation. What we do together is about life in the spirit which comes from within us. I believe that all of the external things that we do are for our own sake but our relationship with God is about our praise, worship and love for him and our love for one another, not what we look like or do, what we wear, or our gifts. It’s about our faith.