I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. (Ephesians 1:17-19)
United Methodists tend to be pretty strong on theology (what we believe about God), really strong on Christology (what we believe about Jesus the Christ), but fairly weak on our Pneumatology (what we believe about the Holy Spirit). This is evidenced by the widespread perspective that God stopped talking to us with the closing of the canon of Hebrew and Christian scriptures. Despite the teachings of Jesus, Paul, and other early church writers, many of us hold that divine revelation ended with the Book of Revelation!
But God is still speaking, and Christ is still alive and well in and through us by the power of God’s Holy Spirit. Our trinitarian beliefs are grounded in the oneness of the three persons: creator/parent, redeemer/Savior, and sustainer/transcendent Spirit. We are the living scripture God is still writing. This is why it is so critical that we individually engage in personal devotional practices, as well as corporately practicing the means of grace. This includes prayer, study of scripture, discussions of our faith, fasting, meditation, worship with the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and engagement with the world through service and sacrifice. It is in Christian community that God continues to reveal divine will and vision for our lives.
Our faith is constantly evolving and growing. As our world changes, our Christian witness is transformed. As technology develops, we have amazing capacity and capability to reach an ever-expanding population. With the resources at our disposal, we can do immense good for more people in more places all the time. Our modes and methods of worship and study and learning and spiritual formation improve with every passing year. God has gifted us with incredible potential.
Science and technology, learning and education, medicine and communication – these things are not threats to our faith, but they are God given gifts that allow us to live faithfully in witness to the entire world. We are evolving in our moral and ethical understanding, no longer castigating the differently abled, the cognitively impaired, the immigrant, the poor and marginalized, women, racial minorities, and those of alternative sexualities. We no longer allow child abuses, rape and pillage, or slavery and human trafficking based on the fact that these things are allowed in our Bible. The Holy Spirit is still speaking God’s Word to us today, guiding us to understand and follow God’s will for the whole of creation.
Our Bible is a glorious record of God’s communication to faithful people across geography and generations, and the truth it contains is alive in us today. God is good to God’s people, continuing to enrich and enlighten us that we might be faithful in all things. May we commit to listen closely and carefully to the whispers (and shouts) of the Holy Spirit, that we might honor and glorify God by extending unconditional love and unmerited grace to all people in all places at all times.
Prayer: Loving and leading God, help us to receive your Holy Spirit. Open us to the revelation of your Word to us today. Keep us strong in our Christian communities of faith that we might remain strong in our prayers, our study, our faith sharing, and our service. We ask your blessing in Jesus’ name. Amen.