Trinity Sunday
The Rev. George Pejakovich
John 16:12-15

ONE OF THE MORE DIFFICULT CONCEPTS FOR US TO GET OUR HEADS AROUND WHEN TALKING ABOUT THE TRINITY IS THAT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. IN THE HEBREW, THE WORD IS “RUACH,” WHICH CAN MEAN BOTH SPIRIT AND BREATH. IN THE GREEK, THE WORD IS “PNEUMA,” WHICH ALSO CAN MEAN SPIRIT OR BREATH. THE OLD TESTAMENT PROPHETS WERE SAID TO BE FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT, OR BREATH, OF GOD, AND EVERYONE SEEMED TO KNOW JUST WHAT THAT MEANT. IN JOHN’S GOSPEL, JESUS BREATHES ON THE DISCIPLES AND THEY RECEIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT, YET, JUST LAST SUNDAY, WE ALSO READ THAT THE HOLY SPIRIT DESCENDED UPON THE DISCIPLES LIKE TONGUES OF FIRE. IN THE FIRST INSTANCE, EVERYTHING IS CALM AND PEACEFUL, WHILE IN THE SECOND THE DISCIPLES ARE RUNNING AROUND SPEAKING IN STRANGE LANGUAGES, AND WERE APPARENTLY SO “FIRED UP” THAT PEOPLE THOUGHT THEY WERE DRUNK. WE MIGHT VERY WELL ASK, “WHAT IS THIS ‘SPIRIT’ OR ‘BREATH’ AND HOW DOES IT WORK?”

I HAVE, OVER THE YEARS, HEARD MANY SOLID CHRISTIAN MEN AND WOMEN TELL ME THAT THEY JUST DID NOT THINK THEY HAD THE HOLY SPIRIT BECAUSE THEY HAVE NEVER HAD AN ECSTATIC EXPERIENCE. SOME DENOMINATIONS EVEN MAINTAIN THAT UNLESS YOU BREAK OUT IN THE SPEAKING OF TONGUES, YOU DO NOT HAVE THE HOLY SPIRIT. WHILE IT IS TRUE THAT ONE OF THE MANIFESTATIONS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IS THE SPEAKING IN TONGUES, THAT IS BY NO MEANS THE ENTIRETY OF THE WAY THE HOLY SPIRIT WORKS OR MANIFESTS ITSELF IN THE LIFE OF A BELIEVER. IT MIGHT BE HELPFUL TO LOOK CLOSELY AT WHAT JESUS SAID ABOUT THE HOLY SPIRIT.

THE DISCIPLES WERE NOT YET READY TO GRASP THE WHOLE PICTURE OF WHAT JESUS WAS DOING, AND GOING TO DO, AND WOULD NOT REALLY UNDERSTAND UNTIL AFTER THE RESURRECTION; BUT TO PREPARE THEM, JESUS TOLD THEM THAT THE HOLY SPIRIT WOULD COME TO THEM. WHEN THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH COMES, HE WILL GUIDE YOU INTO ALL THE TRUTH; FOR HE WILL NOT SPEAK ON HIS OWN, BUT WILL SPEAK WHATEVER HE HEARS, AND HE WILL DECLARE TO YOU THE THINGS THAT ARE TO COME. HE WILL GLORIFY ME BECAUSE HE WILL TAKE WHAT IS MINE AND DECLARE IT TO YOU. ALL THAT THE FATHER HAS IS MINE. FOR THIS REASON I SAID THAT HE WILL TAKE WHAT IS MINE AND DECLARE IT TO YOU.

THE WORK OF THE SPIRIT OF GOD, THE HOLY SPIRIT, OR THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH, IS TO GUIDE US INTO ALL THE TRUTH. THIS DOES NOT MEAN THAT WHEN THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH COMES TO US WE ARE TURNED INTO ROCKET SCIENTISTS OR PARTICLE PHYSICISTS, OR EVEN DOCTORS OR LAWYERS; THOSE ARE NOT THE TRUTHS, SUCH AS THEY ARE, TO WHICH THE HOLY SPIRIT GUIDES US. THE HOLY SPIRIT GUIDES US INTO ALL THE TRUTH ABOUT JESUS; WHO HE IS, WHAT HE HAS DONE, AND WHAT HE WILL DO. WHEN THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH GUIDES US TO ALL THE TRUTH ABOUT THE MAN JESUS, THE HOLY SPIRIT GLORIFIES JESUS AS THE CHRIST OF GOD, IN WHOM IS ALL THE FULLNESS OF ALMIGHTY GOD MADE MANIFEST TO US.

FOR MOST OF US, THE HOLY SPIRIT COMES TO US IN THE JOYFUL AND PEACEFUL ACT OF BAPTISM; WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE CRYING BABY OR TWO, OR, IN MY CASE, RUNNING DOWN THE AISLES OF THE CHURCH TRYING TO GET AWAY. WITH THE WATER AND THE WORD, THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH INFUSES OUR SPIRITS, AND, FROM THE MOMENT OF OUR BAPTISM, IS A PART OF US, AND GUIDES US TO ALL THE TRUTH ABOUT JESUS. THUS THE VOICES OF THE LITTLE CHILDREN SINGING “JESUS LOVES ME,” IS AS MUCH A PART OF THE TRUTH ABOUT JESUS AS IS THE LEARNED DISSERTATIONS OF THE THEOLOGIANS EXPLAINING THE DOCTRINE OF THE ATTONEMENT. THE TRUTH TO WHICH THE SPIRIT GUIDES US IS THE GLORIFICATION OF JESUS.

FOR THOSE OF US RAISED IN THE CHURCH, OR FOR WHOM THE TRUTH ABOUT JESUS HAS BEEN A PART OF OUR LIVES AS LONG AS WE CAN REMEMBER, THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH GUIDES US INTO AN EVER DEEPENING KNOWLEDGE OF WHO JESUS IS, WHAT HE HAS DONE, AND WHAT HE WILL DO. AS WE GROW IN SPIRITUAL MATURITY, THE SONGS OF CHILDHOOD, WHILE EVER PRESENT IN MEMORY, ARE SUPPLEMENTED BY OUR GREATER UNDERSTANDING OF THE IMPLICATIONS FOR OUR LIVES IN WHAT THE SPIRIT TELLS US ABOUT JESUS. THE PROBABILITY OF SOMEONE WHO HAS GROWN TO MATURITY BEING GUIDED BY THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH HAVING AN ECSTATIC EXPERIENCE, WHILE NOT IMPOSSIBLE, IS RELATIVELY LOW.

FOR THOSE WHO HAVE NOT KNOWN THE TRUTH ABOUT JESUS, OR WHO HAVE FALLEN AWAY FROM THE LOVE OF GOD POURED INTO THEIR HEARTS BY THE HOLY SPIRIT, BEING GUIDED INTO ALL THE TRUTH ABOUT JESUS CAN BE AN OVERWHELMING EXPERIENCE. WHEN THE GUIDANCE OF THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH TURNS ONE’S WORLD UPSIDE DOWN, AND EVERYTHING ONE THOUGHT ONE KNEW COMES FACE TO FACE WITH THE GLORY OF GOD IN JESUS, IT IS A LIFE CHANGING EXPERIENCE THAT CAN RATTLE A PERSON TO THE VERY DEPTHS OF HIS OR HER SPIRIT. THE TRUTH WILL INDEED SET YOU FREE, BUT THE COST OF THAT FREEDOM IS THE LOSS OF EVERYTHING YOU THOUGHT YOU KNEW AND EVERYTHING YOU FALSELY VALUED. WHEN THIS HAPPENS, WHEN WE OPEN OUR SPIRIT TO THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH, WE ARE ECSTATIC, LITERALLY OUTSIDE OF OURSELVES, AND FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT OF GOD. BECAUSE THEY ARE SO DRAMATIC, THESE ARE THE KINDS OF EXPERIENCES SO MANY FOCUS ON AS THE SIGN OF THE SPIRIT OF GOD.

YET THE SLOW GROWTH OF COMING TO MATURITY BEING GUIDED BY THE SPIRIT AND THE SUDDEN OVERWHELMING ECSTATIC EXPERIENCE OF BEING LED TO THE TRUTH BY THE SPIRIT IS ALL THE WORKING OF THE ONE SPIRIT OF GOD. THE SPIRIT OF GOD IS THE SPIRIT OF UNITY, BECAUSE THE TRUTH TO WHICH WE ARE GUIDED IS ONE; WE ARE GUIDED TO THE TRUTH OF WHO JESUS IS, WHAT HE HAS DONE, AND WHAT HE WILL DO. HOWEVER WE ARE GUIDED TO ALL THE TRUTH ABOUT JESUS, HOWEVER THE SPIRIT BLOSSOMS IN OUR SPIRITS, WHETHER THROUGH THE GENTLE GROWTH TO MATURITY, THE SUDDEN OVERWHELMING EXPERIENCE, OR, LIKE THE DISCIPLES WITH AN EXTRA BURST TO GET THEM OUT OF THE HOUSE, WITH THE TRUTH WE ARE GIVEN THE GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT.

THESE SEVEN FOLD GIFTS COME TO US BY THE POWER OF THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH, AND NOT BY OUR OWN REASON OR INTELLECTUAL MATURITY.

THE FEAR OF THE LORD: THE SPIRIT MAKES US AWARE OF THE AWESOME MAJESTY AND GLORY OF GOD, AND OF HOW THAT MAJESTY AND GLORY ARE REVEALED IN JESUS.
WISDOM: THE SPIRIT GIVES US THE CAPACITY TO LOVE SPIRITUAL THINGS MORE THAN MATERIAL THINGS.
UNDERSTANDING: THE SPIRIT TEACHES US TO COMPREHEND HOW WE ARE TO LIVE AS THE FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST.
COUNSEL: THE SPIRIT TEACHES US THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RIGHT AND WRONG, AND PROMPTS US TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT.
FORTITUDE: THE SPIRIT GIVES US THE STRENGTH TO TAKE RISKS IN THE SERVICE OF OUR GOD; EVEN IN THE FACE OF REJECTION.
KNOWLEDGE: THE SPIRIT GIVES US AN UNDERSTANDING OF THE PURPOSE AND WILL OF OUR GOD AND FATHER.
PIETY: THE SPIRIT GIVES US A DEEP RESPECT FOR OUR GOD, BEFORE WHOM WE LIVE IN HUMILITY, TRUST, AND LOVE.

THE SPIRIT OF GOD CAN NOT BE CONTROLLED OR CONSTRAINED, SO NO MATTER HOW THE SPIRIT OF GOD HAS COME TO YOU, WHETHER ON THE DAY OF YOUR BAPTISM OR LIKE A BOLT OUT OF THE BLUE, IF YOU KNOW THE TRUTH ABOUT JESUS, THAT HE IS YOUR LORD AND YOUR GOD, THEN YOU HAVE BEEN GUIDED TO THAT TRUTH BY THE HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD. THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH HAS BROUGHT YOU HERE TO WORSHIP THE LORD JESUS, AND, IN SO DOING, HAS GIVEN YOU THE PRICELESS GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT OF GOD.

COME, HOLY SPIRIT; OPEN OUR HEARTS AND MINDS TO YOUR WONDROUS PRESENCE IN OUR LIVES NOW, AND IN EVERY BREATH WE TAKE FOR ALL OF OUR DAYS.
AMEN

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