Each of us faces fear, and rarely do we know long periods of time without suffering. These experiences are parts of the human condition that come as surely as the changing of seasons. But usually they affect us as individuals or small communities.
Sharing deep pain and uncertainty with almost everyone we know does not happen often, but an extended time of shared suffering began early in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic entered our world. The unfolding of the pandemic and its health and economic impacts were everywhere, on the news, and shared in the virtual conversations to which we transitioned for contact. There was no place to escape it, no refuge from worry about what would next emerge.
Does the knowledge that one is a child of God make a difference when we are struck with the sure knowledge that we are not in control? Does our birthright as God’s own provide just a moment of calm when the newscaster reports an uptick of virus cases in our region? When we receive the late-night call informing us that our child has been picked up by the police, do we know that our desperate pleading for God’s help is an affirmation that we are connected to the source of love through the Spirit? Does that connection soothe and sustain us when we hear a bad diagnosis at the doctor’s office? Can we find meaning in whatever pain comes our way by remembering the betrayal and suffering of the Christ with whom we share an inheritance in God’s reign?
Not only can we trust that God is with us in whatever suffering we face, but our status as God’s adopted children promises that we will know God’s glory amid our pain. Both are promised: the hardship we all will endure and the glory of being related to God through the Spirit, who assures that we are never alone.
Consider with gratitude when you have experienced God’s presence in suffering.
In preparing for Pentecost, we focus again on the work of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2 recounts the famous story in which the disciples are miraculously able to speak in other languages in order to preach to the crowds in Jerusalem. The psalmist states that God creates and renews creation through the Spirit. According to Paul, if we are led by God’s Spirit, the Spirit confirms that we are children of God. In the Gospel of John, Jesus promises to send the Helper, the Holy Spirit, who will teach us how to love him and to keep his commandments. In some branches of Christianity, fear of excess causes hesitation about the Holy Spirit; however, we must never forget that the Spirit is central to God’s redeeming work.
Read Acts 2:1-21. The miracle of Pentecost is not only in the multitude of languages but also in the act of listening. How can you experience worship in many languages or offer deep listening this Pentecost?
Read Psalm 104:24-34, 35b. How do you witness God’s experience woven through all of creation?
Read Romans 8:14-17. The author reminds us that spirit also means breath. When have you felt led by the breath of God?
Read John 14:8-17, 25-27. How has fear kept you from trusting God?
Respond by posting a prayer.
This season, Whitney R. Simpson has given us the gift we must open: a clear, accessible invitation to connect with the divine spark that is within us. This is the best present: being present for Jesus’ birth, God made human.”
Learn more about our newest Advent resource, Fully Human, Fully Divine here.