Be filled with the Spirit

In the nineteenth century the American evangelist Dwight Moody and  singer and composer Ira Sankey formed a remarkable partnership in the gospel that saw them conduct three missionary trips to the British Isles. Moody would engage the mind with his preaching while Sankey would stir the heart with his singing. It was said that Mr. Sankey sang with the conviction that souls were receiving Jesus between one note and the next,  and that when he sang ' The Ninety and Nine ' about the Good Shepherd seeking out the lost sheep, ‘you know of a truth that down in this corner, up in that gallery, behind that pillar the hand of Jesus has been finding this and that and yonder lost one to place them in His fold.’

The Holy Spirit can indeed work through the talents of different types of musicians. Whether it is a Choral Evensong or a Gospel Choir, or a Taize chant, it is the same Spirit that flows through them all.Those of us who cannot play an instrument or sing well might look with envy at those who can; but we all have our talents that can be put to work by the Holy Spirit. There is no one whom the Spirit cannot use. We can all listen to a problem shared, for example, we can all be a pair of ears for the Lord.

St Paul reminds us that while the gifts of the Spirit are various, it is the one Spirit who gives them. And just as all of these gifts are equally valuable, so there should be an equality among Christians. We are all equally important in God’s eyes. God loves the one who has known him for five minutes as much as one who has been a believer all his life, as we are reminded in the Parable of the Labourors.

Everybody contains the spark of the Spirit, but it needs to be fanned to ignite and burst into flame. The evangelist Billy Graham said that Christians are like coals in a fire, when they cling together, they keep the flame aglow, when they separate, they die out. So, first we need to keep the flame burning inside of us; by staying close to Jesus in word and sacrament, prayer and service. If we are close to him, we may from time to time feel the blessing of being strangely warmed by the Spirit, our hearts burning within us, as they did for the two disciples as the Risen Christ talked with them along the way to Emmaus. We need to let the Spirit, the breath of Christ, breathe peace into our troubled and troublesome hearts.

When he addressed a crowd, Dwight Moody would sometimes hold up a glass and ask how he could get the air out. One man suggested sucking it out with a pump. Moody replied that that would create a vacuum and shatter the glass.  Instead he picked up a jug and filled the glass with water  thus displacing all the air.  He explained that victory in the Christian life is not accomplished by "sucking out a sin here and there," but by being filled with the Holy Spirit. As he said “the moment our hearts are emptied of pride and selfishness and ambition and everything that is contrary to God's law, the Holy Spirit will fill every corner of our hearts. But if we are full of pride and conceit and ambition and the world, there is no room for the Spirit of God. We must be emptied before we can be filled."

Following on from the Feast of Pentecost, the early Christians were full of the Holy Spirit, they burned with a desire to share the good news of Jesus Christ. Is that true of us? On this Pentecost Sunday let us ask ourselves if we are filled with the Holy Spirit. If not, are we prepared to empty ourselves in order to be filled with Him? Do we burn with a desire to share the gospel and bring others to know Christ?  We have all been given the gift of being able to share our faith.

Ira Sankey attributed much of the success of the Moody and Sankey missions to the hymn lyrics of Fanny Crosby who, though blind from a young age, wrote so many hymns that some publishers were reluctant to have so many by the same author in one hymn book; so she assumed 200 pseudonyms. One hymn she wrote under the name of Robert Bruce and which was set to a Sankey tune is the following:

Come Holy Spirit, like a dove descending

Rest thou upon us while we meet to pray

Show us the Saviour, all his love revealing

Lead us to him the Life, the truth, the way.

 

Come Holy Spirit, every cloud dispelling

Fill us with gladness, through the Master’s name

Bring to our memory words that he hath spoken

Then shall our tongues his wondrous grace proclaim.

 

Come Holy Spirit, sent from God the Father

Thou friend and teacher, comforter and guide

Our thoughts directing, keep us close to Jesus

And in our hearts forevermore abide.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On this day of Pentecost, we give thanks for the gift of the Spirit, that unites us with you and your Son.

 

Holy Church……………

 

May we each see the role that we have to play in building your kingdom.

Give us integrity that we may we live out the faith we profess 

Grant us courage and fervour to share our faith and draw others to know you.

May your Spirit help us to find the right words.

 

Lord, we pray for the peace of the world.

We pray for the victims of attacks in London, Kabul, and Manchester.

For the members of the emergency services, and health service, for all who work for the security and wellbeing of this country.

Lord, we pray for HMQ and her government

KL,

For all seeking election to parliament.

That the people of this country will exercise the hard-won right to vote, and use it wisely.

 

Marriage: John and Karen preparing for married life.

Sister Angela 75.

 

 

Injured in London and Manchester

 

Lives ended suddenly and too soon.