Thoughts for Saturday 6th June 2020

Psalm 8; Job 38:22-38; John 14:15-17

Saturday 6 June - Rev. Jerry Eve

 We can read the Bible on its own, but sometimes it’s helpful to read it in conjunction with other documents. Commentaries can be helpful. But I quite like dictionaries, and today with our reading from John, I’m curious to find out what the definitions are of those two little words: Holy and Spirit (the Good News Translation bearing a title for this passage of ‘The Promise of the Holy Spirit’). It does help, of course, to know a little New Testament Greek, but I don’t think that should entirely put us off any Bible Study at all, if this is something we’ve never studied.

 The word Holy means: dedicated or consecrated to God or a religious purpose; sacred.

 And the word Spirit means: the non-physical part of a person which is the seat of emotions and character; the soul.

 Now, there are other dictionaries, and sometimes, if we’re not entirely satisfied with one definition, we can find another that seems more helpful. And another thing we can do is to use these dictionaries to then go on and find definitions of words which have been used to define these words, as well as related words. In this case that might be e.g. Ghost, sacred, spiritual, spirituality, soul etc. The risk, of course, is always that we may become even more confused, and yet more often than not I’ve tended to find that the opposite is true, and that this is actually quite a good method.

 The whole concept of the Holy Spirit is one that I do find puzzling. It’s a phrase that is used literally hundreds of times in the New Testament. And it may be – it probably is the case that – its meaning differs somewhat from place to place. But what these definitions have done for me today is to simplify my whole response to these two words whenever I see them. By this I mean that they have taught me 1) not to be scared that I sometimes don’t understand what’s being said, while at the same time 2) making me content to live with a notion of the Holy Spirit as a mystery as well.

 I do hope they do the same for you. But if you are even more confused, then can I suggest Galatians 5:22-23 which has the ‘fruit of the Spirit’ and 1 Corinthians 12 which has its ‘gifts’.

Another document you may like to turn to as well is one that the Swiss theologian, Karl Barth (1886 - 1968) is purported to have told his students: “We must hold the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other.”

 Let us pray:

 Lord our God, we praise you and thank you that you, in your dear Son, in mercy beyond understanding, would humble yourself so much for our sakes, in order that in him we may be so highly exalted for your sake. We praise you and thank you for his mighty decision regarding your people Israel and the pagan nations from which you called our ancestors. We praise you and thank you for all of your gracious election and calling, that you are also the God of the rejected and the uncalled, and that you never cease to deal with each one of us in a fatherly and righteous manner. Let us never tire of recognising you and praying to you in all of these mysteries, that we may in faith lay hold of your Word, through which you magnify your honour and give us, with eternal blessing, peace and joy, even in this life. We pray for your church here and in all nations, for the sleeping church, that it may awaken; for the persecuted church, that it may continually rejoice and be assured of what it has in you; and for the confessing church, that it may live not for its own sake, but for your glory.

 We pray for the rulers and the authorities all over the world: for the good ones, that you may preserve them; and for the bad ones, that you may either turn their hearts or put an end to their power, all according to your will; and for everyone, that you may advise them that they are and must remain your servants.

 We pray that all tyranny and disorder may be fended off, and that all oppressed nations and people may be granted justice.

We pray for the poor, the sick, the prisoners, the helpless, and the troubled, for all who suffer – perhaps from something only you know – that you yourself may comfort them with the hope of your kingdom,

 Amen (Karl Barth).

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