The Holy Spirit is doing a new work; a unifying, transforming, and healing work.
It has been quite a week and I admit, there were moments when I really had to strain to see where God was at work in my life. But alas, I saw it, several times actually, the holy work of God and it is worth sharing.
In chronological order, Saturday was a hard day. All of your Florida United Methodist Pastors and lay leaders gathered over Zoom for a special called Annual Conference specifically to do the work of voting to allow for the disaffiliation of 55 United Methodist churches who had worked, voted, and prepared to leave the connection. There will be more, I know, but for now, 93% of the 1,100 voters on Saturday morning voted to bless the ministries of 55 churches and let them go. Some will go independent; some will go to the Global Methodist Church and others are still deciding what is next. The hardest part of that time was hearing the name of one of the churches that Ryan and I served together read aloud as a church poised and prepared to disaffiliate. I have known for a while and have prayed for those leading that church that we served together for four years, and I knew it was coming, but it was still hard to process. When I let my ego take the wheel, I started to feel like I had failed them somehow. But then I remember that the Holy Spirit did tremendous work on me in the four years I served there. It formed me as a pastor, it shaped my marriage, my first year of becoming a mom, my heart for missions and my courage in sharing my faith. And if the Holy Spirit did a new work in me, then it most certainly can do a new work in whatever new direction that church finds itself. We worship a Big God, whose arms are open wide and whose table has plenty of seats left unoccupied and so while I mourn the loss of this church to our connection, I trust that God will continue to be faithful to them.
And then I get to this morning and I see the Holy Spirit working once again in the faces of those 50 three, four and five-year-olds in Chapel and I smile once again. Today I got to teach these young ones about the story of Pentecost and the birth of the church. I told them about the tongues of fire and how God’s love is wide and high and deep. I asked them who in their lives spoke a language other than English and some mentioned Spanish, Arabic, Creole and Hindi, but then others made up names of a language that they thought they spoke and some even demonstrated for all to hear! Nevertheless, I got to tell them about a God who sent God’s Spirit to unify and strengthen. A God who loves the diversity of color, nationalities and languages, a God who can take the chaos of many faithful witnesses from different people groups and make them one through the common language of Spirit. I told them about the day of Pentecost and how 3,000 people came to faith in Jesus Christ because the Holy Spirit was doing new work.
And then, exhausted from the day, I held our baby in my arms as she slept. I prayed over her that her cough would cease and her congestion lessen and then I tried, to the best of my ability, to hold the mask of a nebulizer over her sleeping face so the steam could begin to heal her. (Have you ever tried this with an 8-month-old?) And it hit me. The Holy Spirit is doing something new as well and it might just heal us if we are paying attention. You know, I can’t really see the vapor, from her medicine, but I know it is working. I don’t see the steam well in the dim light of the living room, but I see my daughter’s chest going up and down. And tonight I breathe a little better knowing that the Holy Spirit can heal me too. Sure, God’s Holy Spirit is way better than any nebulizer, but to me, an anxious and tired mom, I can definitely see the connection.
And so I invite you to look for the Holy Spirit this week, for you will find her. In moments of disappointment or feeling like you failed, don’t lose hope. In the moments of joy and silliness, savor it and those you share it with. And in the moments of sickness or prolonged illness, look for healing and the opportunity to be made new. Because, I promise you, the Holy Spirit is doing new work, even if you have to strain to see it. The story of the Resurrection is that things are not as they seem and that God is always in the business of making things new.