I so enjoyed celebrating communion with the family of faith yesterday. We’ve just begun to pass the plates again in the 11:00 am service. While I love the image of approaching the altar, as we do in the First Community early service, I also love the image of serving one another down the pews. Our deacons did a marvelous job to lead such a moving and meaningful time together.
Communion is, I believe, the ultimate picture of unity and diversity. Everyone has a place around Christ’s table. There is unity not in thinking or acting or looking the same, but through Christ himself. “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:4-6, NIV).
Today I want to highlight the idea that there is one Spirit that fills us.
In the Holy Spirit, we see amazing creativity and the generous giving of diverse gifts.
We also see the way that God’s Spirit gives us wisdom, helps us to intercede for one another, and cultivates the most important aspect of our life together: love.
A Spirit of Wisdom
We need wisdom for the future. Much is changing in American religious life. Patterns of attendance are changing among the faithful. Digital ministry is growing in significance. And many, many people in our culture want nothing to do with traditional religious life.
We need wisdom to know the right moves to make in a culture that is constantly on the move.
The Holy Spirit helps us, if we are open to such wisdom, to understanding the very thoughts of God.
“These are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except for their own spirit within them? In the same way, no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10-11, NIV).
We can trust that if we ask, God’s Spirit will lead us to understanding. In John 14:26, Jesus told his disciples, “the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26, ESV).
A Spirit of Intercession
We all have times when we feel weak and don’t know what to do. The Holy Spirit helps us align with God’s will by interceding for us during those times.
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God” (Romans 8:26-27, NIV).
Someone recently recommended to me the book called Intercessor, which is based on the life of Rees Howells. He was a Welsh pastor and the President of a Bible College in Wales in the early 20th century.
Howells taught that the secret to intercession is identifying with the person on a deeper level. When you understand more of what they’re going through, whether they have a physical need or a spiritual need, you can effectively pray before your Heavenly Father for them.
The Spirit knows you inside and out; therefore, the Spirit is able to discern your needs, and pray on your behalf. The Spirit can also help all of us and understanding one another, and how we can pray.
A Spirit of Love
Finally, the Holy Spirit fill us with love for God and for one another. Paul wrote to the Galatians that “The fruit of the Spirit is love…” (Galatians 5:22, NIV), among other things. He also told his disciple, Timothy, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7, NIV).
Let’s pray that God would help us to experience more of the power of the Holy Spirit. When that happens, I believe that we will grow in both unity and diversity.
I’m so glad to be a part of the First Baptist family.
May Jesus’ kingdom come, His will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.