Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

Teach us to Pray

This morning as I was helping Charlie get dressed for school, the brightly colored rosary hanging on his closet door caught my eye.  It was a gift at his baptism from my professor and friend, who is now in hospital.  Mo. Mitties had a knack for showing up at Holy Spirit events–so many ordinations (often as a presenter or preacher), installations and baptisms.  She showed up at Ground Zero as a chaplain to first responders when she was supposed to be on sabbatical.  The woman shows up.

And she showed up this morning in Charlie’s room, even from ICU.

Jay and I pray with Charlie every night before bed, and have since he was born.  As soon as we start praying, he crawls off our lap and puts his head down to sleep.  It has become his signal that peace has come and it’s time to rest.  Because Jay usually does bedtime, I don’t get to pray with Charlie as often.

I realized the other day that we had not been praying at meals–ever.  The start of supper is such a fluid thing now, with no real pause to signal prayer.  Sometimes Charlie starts eating before us, sometimes one of us is calming the Lucy while the others eat, and in the midst of the chaos we don’t even notice that we’ve forgotten to ask God’s blessing.

So we’ve started this week, remembering only ever-other-day, trying to re-create a meaningful and formational habit.  Jay prays the Catholic prayer he was taught as a child, I’ve introduced “Johnny Appleseed” (which has to be sung several times at Charlie’s request), and I imagine Charlie will come up with his own brand of blessing as his vocabulary increases.

Sitting there with the rosary this morning, I tried to *explain* prayer for the first time.  We talked about how the different colored and shaped beads can remind us of things to talk to God about.  We talked about how the cross reminds us of Jesus’ love for us.  We prayed for our friend Mitties, that she would know comfort and that God would make her whole.  And then we walked to school thinking of more people to pray for and pointing at things we thank God for.

The glory in all this is how God is teaching me to pray in new ways.  There’s a different kind of sacredness I am discovering in praying with my child who is beginning to understand conversation more and more, because of course prayer is conversation.  I feel as if I’m entering a new season of spiritual formation as I grow alongside Charlie.

Lord, teach us to pray.

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Holy Spirit Extravaganza

On January 17th, my bishop came up from North Carolina and family and friends came in from Texas, Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina and of course New York–all to ordain me to the sacred order of priests.

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Photo credit: Craig Ruttle


Watch it here.

If you want to skip ahead to Bishop Michael Curry’s spirited sermon, it begins around 40 minutes in.

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Photo credit: Craig Ruttle


With Bishop Curry’s blessing, I asked that the readings for the day be those used in celebrating the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. They are Genesis 37:17-20 (Joseph the dreamer), Ephesians 6:10-20 (the whole armor of God–including shoes for proclaiming the gospel!), and Luke 6:27-36 (love your enemies). It is my prayer that these readings will forever shape and embolden my ministry in Christ’s church.

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Escuchando El Espíritu

5 Mayo, 2013—Pascua 2C—Iglesia de San Mateo & San Timoteo, Nueva York

Hechos 11:1-18; Salmos 148; Apocolipsis 21:1-6; San Juan 13:31-35

La semana pasada, Madre Carla nos dio una tarea.  ¿Se acuerdan? Ella nos animó a pensar del amor cuando hacemos decisiones—a preguntarnos cuál es la respuesta de amor, y a actuar de ese amor.

Pues, ¿Cómo les fue?

¿Amaron a sus vecinos?  ¿Se Amaron a si mismos?  ¿Se preguntaron, cuál es la manera más amorosa en que puedo hacer en esta situación?

Leí en un libro esta semana que, “Cuando Jesús nos llama a amar a nuestro prójimo como a nosotros mismos, nos dice que realmente no podemos amar a ninguno sin amar a ambos.”  Si no me amo, será difícil amar a otro/a.  Y si yo no soy amoroso hacia usted, será difícil a amarme a mí mismo.*

La semana pasada el Evangelio de Juan nos recordó cómo la gente sabría que somos discípulos de Cristo, “que se amen los unos a los otros.”

Esta semana Jesús nos dice que él enviará el Defensor, el Espíritu Santo—antes Jesús describe al Consolador como “el espíritu de la verdad…está con ustedes y permanecerá siempre con ustedes.”  Aquí Jesús nos dice que el Defensor es una gracia de Dios, enviado en nombre de Cristo.  Nos dice que este Espíritu nos enseñará todo y nos recordará todo lo que él nos ha dicho.

Y esto es lo que quiero explorar con ustedes hoy, ¿cómo conocemos y cómo escuchamos al Espíritu Santo?  Porque creo que conociendo al Espíritu Santo realmente informa nuestra capacidad de amarnos unos al otros.

Holy Spirit Coming, by He Qi.

Para comenzar, ¿cuáles son algunos nombres que tenemos para el Espíritu Santo?  El texto de hoy llama al Espíritu un Defensor.

Maestro

Ayudante

Consolador

Pneuma/Ruach—viento o aliento en griego/hebreo

Intercesor—que ora en nuestro nombre

Estos nombres nos ayudan a conocer lo que hace el Espíritu.  Y saber lo que el Espíritu hace nos ayuda a reconocer al Espíritu en nuestras vidas.

Hay un libro llamado “El ayudante” sobre el Espíritu Santo que leía cada año para la Cuaresma.**  El libro es más viejo que yo, y usa unas palabras que ya no estamos acostumbrados a usar.  Pero lo leía cada año porque me enseña a practicar escuchar al Espíritu.

Empezamos con lo que acabamos de hacer—decir quien es el Espíritu Santo para que sepamos a quien escuchamos.

Entonces hablamos de donde encontramos el Espíritu Santo.  Jesús dice, el Espíritu Santo está dentro de usted.  Para mí, siento el Espíritu Santo en mis huesos. Para otros, puede ser su corazón o su cabeza.  Sin embargo, encontrar el Espíritu Santo requiere un conocimiento de sí mismo que viene de una inteligencia interior.

Cuando sabemos a quien escuchamos, y como escuchar, podemos practicar el escuchar.

Generalmente necesitamos empezar poco a poco.  Preste atención a los pequeños impulsos, avances, pausas y provocaciones.  Tal vez siento que debo llamar a un amigo, que debo mandar un texto a mi esposa para recordarle como le amo, que debo quedarme en casa para descansar y luego de asistir a un evento.

Tenemos estos presentimientos pequeños y nos preguntamos si deberíamos prestar atención a ellos, no?  Esto es cuando comienza el estar escuchando al Espíritu Santo.

No siempre entiendo un presentimiento, y no siempre sé si seguir este instinto realmente hiciera una diferencia en mi día o en el día de alguien más.  Pero nos inculca el hábito de escuchar, confianza y actuar.

Según se pone en práctica, es posible que a veces me pregunte ¿cómo sé yo si estoy escuchando al Espíritu Santo, y no algún otro impulso o influencia?

Recuerden que Jesús dijo que el Espíritu Santo nos recuerda todo Jesús nos ha enseñado.  Así que, como Jesús, el Espíritu Santo nos anima a actuar de tal manera que nos amemos los unos a los otros.  A veces escuchando por el amor nos ayuda a eliminar cualquier otras distracciones.

Cuando nos acostumbramos a escuchar al Espíritu Santo en las cosas pequeñas, podemos confiar en la misma voz cuando encontramos decisiones más grandes.  Quizás es tiempo de moverse, tomar un riesgo en el trabajo, quitar una relación malsana, empezar una familia, elegir una universidad después de colegio, o asumir una nueva responsabilidad.  Si hemos practicado escuchar al Espíritu Santo, ya sabemos la voz tranquila en situaciones grandes y pequeñas.

Esta capacidad de conocer y confiar en el Espíritu Santo es la razón que Jesús pueda decir, “Al irme les dejo la paz.  Les doy mi paz, pero no se la doy como la dan los que son del mundo.  No se angustien ni tengan miedo.”

Jesús dice esto ya que está a punto de irse de este mundo.  Él sabe que los discípulos pronto se enfrentaran con temor y dudas.  Pero porque el Espíritu Santo permanece, el mismo Espíritu de Dios que Jesús ha encarnado en la tierra para nosotros, nunca estamos solos y no tenemos nada que temer.

Mientras más conocemos el Espíritu Santo, cuanto más conocemos la paz de Cristo.

Creo que esta paz es doble.  Creo que hay una paz que experimentamos al actuar con la seguridad del Espíritu Santo.  Creo que es una paz que sobrepasa nuestra comprensión porque a veces el Espíritu nos llama a hacer cosas fuera de lógica.

Pero también hay la paz que se crea cuando hacemos lo más amoroso como Madre Carla nos desafió que consideremos la semana pasada.

La paz que Jesús nos deja es una paz que experimentamos y que creamos cuando escuchamos al Espíritu y nos amamos unos a otros.

Pasé mucho tiempo hoy hablando de cómo escuchar por el Espíritu porque creo que es algo que tenemos que entrenar nuestros oídos a hacer.  Tanto como podríamos creer que el amor debería venir fácilmente, el amor es algo que Jesús nos enseña una y otra vez, sermón después de sermón, parábola después de parábola, y por último con su muerte y resurrección.  Y Jesús nos dice, “el Espíritu Santo les enseñará todas las cosas y les recordará todo lo que les he dicho.”  Así que, si debemos amar el uno al otro, tenemos que practicar escuchando al Espíritu.

En dos semanas celebraremos Pentecostés.  Pentecostés es cuando recordamos la venida del Espíritu Santo que autorizó a los discípulos a predicar vigorosamente y en lenguas que nunca habían hablado antes.  Pentecostés es el domingo del Espíritu Santo.

Pero si queremos que nuestros corazones sean encendidos con el poder del Espíritu Santo, tenemos que estar abiertos y listos para escuchar.

Practiquen conmigo.  Empiecen con lo pequeño y prepárese para algo grande.  Nunca se sabe a que valentía el Espíritu le podría llamar, pero puede confiar en que será una llamada de amor y paz.

Amen.

*L. William Countryman, Living on the Border of the Holy: Renewing the Priesthood of All, page 176.

**Catherine Marshall, The Helper.

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Listening for Fire

Preached on the Sixth Sunday of Easter at St. Matthew & St. Timothy, New York

Acts 11:1-18; Psalm 148; Revelation 21:1-6; John 13:31-35

Last week Mother Carla gave us some homework.  She encouraged us to think of Love as we made decisions—to ask ourselves what the loving response might be and to act out of that love.

How’d it go for you?

Did you love your neighbor?  Did you love yourself?  Did you ask yourself, what is the most loving thing I can do in this situation or that?

I read in a book this week that, “When Jesus calls us to love our neighbor as ourselves, he is telling us that we cannot really love either without loving both.”[1]  If I don’t love myself, I’m going to have a hard time loving you.  And if I’m not very loving toward you, it’s going to be tough to love myself.

Last week John’s gospel reminded us how people would know we are disciples of Christ, “that you love one another.”

This week Jesus tells us that he will send the Advocate, the Holy Spirit—earlier Jesus describes the Advocate as “the spirit of truth…he abides with you, and he will be in you.”[2]  Here Jesus tells us that the Advocate is a gift from God, sent in Christ’s name, and that this Spirit will teach us everything, and remind us of all that Jesus has said to us.

And this is what I want to explore with you today—how we know or listen to the Holy Spirit—because I think knowing the Holy Spirit really informs our ability to love one another.

Jyoti Sahi- India

So first off—what are some names we have for the Holy Spirit?  Today’s text calls the Spirit an Advocate.

Teacher

Helper (Paraclete)

Comforter

Pneuma/Ruach—wind or breath in Greek/Hebrew

Intercessor—groans on our behalf

These names help us to know what the Spirit does.  And knowing what the Spirit does should help us to recognize the spirit in our lives.

There is a book called “The Helper” by Catherine Marshal that I used to read every year for Lent.  The book is older than me, and it uses some language we’re no longer accustomed to.  But I read it every year for several years because it taught me how to practice listening to the Spirit.  And I really do mean practice.

We start with what we’ve just done—naming who the Holy Spirit is so that we know who to listen for.

Then we move on to where we find the Holy Spirit.  Jesus says, the Holy Spirit is inside you.  For me, I feel the Holy Spirit most in my gut.  For others, it may be their heart or their head.  Regardless, finding the Holy Spirit requires a self-awareness that comes from turning inward.

Once we know whom we’re listening for and where to listen for it, it’s time to practice listening.

Usually we need to start small.  Pay attention to the little urges, nudges, pauses and prompts.  Maybe I have gut feeling that I need to leave 5 minutes early today, or that I need to call and check on my friend, or that I should text my husband to let him know I’m proud of him, or that I really ought to stay home and rest instead of attending an event.

We get these little feelings, and we wonder if we should pay attention to them, you know?  That’s where listening to the Holy Spirit starts.

It doesn’t always make sense, and you may not ever know if following that gut instinct really made a difference in your day or in the day of someone else.  But it gets us in the habit of listening, trusting, and acting.

As you practice, you might sometimes wonder, how do I know I’m listening to the Holy Spirit, and not some other urge or influence?

Remember that Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would remind us of all Jesus has taught us.  So like Jesus, the Holy Spirit will encourage us to act in such a way that we are loving one another.  Sometimes listening for love will help us tune out any other distractions.

Once we get used to hearing the Holy Spirit in some of the smaller every-day stuff, we can trust that same voice when we feel prompted to make bigger decisions.  Maybe it’s time to move, take a risk at work, get out of an unhealthy relationship, start a family, choose where to go to college, or take on a new responsibility.  If we’ve been practicing listening to the Holy Spirit, we will know that still quiet voice in situations great and small.

This ability to know and trust the Holy Spirit is why Jesus can say to his disciples and to us, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid.”

Jesus says this as he is about to be taken out of this world.  He knows the disciples will soon be faced with fear and unknowns.  But because the Holy Spirit remains, the very Spirit of God that Jesus has embodied for us on earth, we are never alone and we have nothing to fear.

The more we know this Holy Spirit, the more we know the peace of Christ.

I think this peace is twofold.  I think there’s the peace we experience from acting with the assurance of the Holy Spirit.  I think it’s a peace that surpasses our understanding because sometimes the Spirit calls us to do things that defy logic.

But then there’s also the peace that is created when we do the most loving thing as Mother Carla challenged us to consider this past week.

The peace that Jesus leaves with us is one we experience and one we create if we but listen to the Spirit and love one another accordingly.

I spent a lot of time talking about how to listen for the Spirit because I think it’s something we have to train our ears to do.  As much as we might think love ought to come easily, love is something Jesus teaches us again and again, sermon after sermon, parable after parable, and ultimately with his death and resurrection.    And Jesus tells us, “the Holy Spirit will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.”  So if we’re to love one another, we’ve got to practice listening to the Spirit.

In two weeks we will celebrate Pentecost.  Pentecost is when we remember the in-rushing of the Holy Spirit that empowered the disciples to preach boldly and in languages they had never spoken before.  Pentecost is Holy Spirit Sunday.

But if our hearts are to be set aflame with the life giving power of the Holy Spirit, we’ve got to be open and ready to listen.

So practice with me.  Start small and get ready for something big.  You never know what boldness the Spirit might call you to, but you can trust it will be a call to love and peace.

Amen.


[1] L. William Countryman, Living on the Border of the Holy: Renewing the Priesthood of All, page 176.

[2] John 14:17.

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