I Saw A Ghost

They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:4)

I remember being fascinated by the name “Holy Ghost” in the Apostles’ Creed when I was a kid. My childish imagination predictably shot into overdrive each Sunday. Who is this Ghost we talk about each week? And why am I the only one who seems to find this so intriguing? No one else seemed troubled or excited by this Ghost business. My mind, however, shifted from holy and uplifting thoughts about Jesus’ great love for me to every Halloween movie I had seen or heard about.

How many of us today have a solid understanding of the Holy Spirit (or, if you prefer, Ghost)? We know who God the Father is. He creates. We see His work. Heck, we are His work! As much as we know about the Father, we know still more about God the Son. Jesus Christ was born of a Virgin, gathered disciples, preached the coming Reign of God, healed all manner of sick people, cast out legions of demons, gave up His life as a sacrifice for the world, and rose from the dead! But the Holy Spirit? Who is He?

Far from haunting the dark and dilapidated house down the street from you, the Holy Spirit’s work is all around us. Not creation, but re-creation. Where there is death, the Holy Spirit breathes life. Where brokenness, restoration. Where sin, forgiveness. In Acts 2, the Holy Spirit was seen and heard in the words spoken by the twelve Apostles. Some who heard them said, “we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.”

In fact, if you were to look for the Holy Spirit today, you would find Him easily! Perhaps not in the confused thinking of an untrained five-year-old, but in the words spoken by the child who sings “Yes, Jesus loves me”. Perhaps not whispered in the ears of the faithful who have prayed “hard enough”, but proclaimed boldly from the pulpits of congregations with pastors who recognize and understand how to divide God’s good words of Law and Gospel. Perhaps not in the dreamy moments right before waking, but in the water and word of Baptism, the bread and wine, Body and Blood of the Lord’s Supper.

The Holy Spirit is not some aimless ghost, wandering around looking for just the right person to pester. The Holy Spirit concretely presents Himself to His people in the Words of Holy Scripture and in the Sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion. The Holy Spirit is the One every Christian has come to know! The Holy Spirit is the One responsible for introducing us to Jesus. The Holy Spirit has been breathing out this Word of life through Christ alone since Jesus sent Him on Pentecost about 2,000 years ago.

May we not be like my young self, asking “who is this Holy Ghost?”, but rather like the Apostles and Christians throughout the ages who have recognized Him through His holy work of bringing people to faith in our Lord Jesus Christ!

O Holy Spirit, come to us and speak to us, strengthening us in the one true faith in Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.

A Dinner Party With Jesus

  Be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
(Ephesians 5:18-21)

The festival is upon us and the feast is prepared; you are the guest of honor! The host ushers you to the front where you are seated next to many others. Your qualifications for being there, a mere invitation from the master of the feast. Since you have a little time before things officially get started, you take a moment to soak in your surroundings. The location is lavish in decor, but not overdone. The sights, sounds, and even smells are somewhat foreign; certainly not mundane.

At last all your fellow invitees are seated and things come to order. On to the feast. Each of the many courses comes replete with a story! Having checked all invitations, the host opens with some introductory words that stir something deep within each diner. Designed to further whet your appetite and bring you more fully into the meal, a most delicate and delicious serving is given out. The single bite bursts with flavor, leaving you longing for what’s next. Thankfully what comes next is a hearty soup, the broth overflows with flavor; the meat and vegetables have a subtle hint of seasoning. Your host calls for music and you feel yourself relax into your seat as the keyboardist plays gently.

Barely finishing the last bit of soup, your salad is delivered right on schedule. With the salad are more words from the host who discusses the history of the matter and points out how the same applies today. Uplifting and helpful are these words as a small, slightly citrusy dollop of sorbet is presented. Just what you needed as you reflect over the meal so far and the importance of the words you’ve heard.

Having poured your drinks, the main course is brought out. Thick, juicy, and cooked perfectly. Paired with crisp vegetables and mash generous with herbs and pepper, the meal couldn’t be better. You savor more than just the food, but the experience. From the knife carving the entree to the smell of it just before taking a bite to the thrilling sensation of tasting it. The graciousness of your host is demonstrated beyond the perfect meal in his encouraging words that make you like family!

More music and dessert! This time the music drives you to tap your foot. You know the IMG_2217[1]tune! Between bites of dessert and sips of coffee, you and the rest of the guests find yourselves singing along! Joining in completely with the entire event! Loving the company and the constant presence of your host, you don’t want the evening to end. But, alas, it must. More gracious words of “thank you” and “come again” and a sincere blessing upon all who shared this intimate experience.

That is the Divine Service! A multi-course meal meted out by Jesus Himself. Each course, each facet leading us forward. Blessings and benedictions, Scriptures and sermons, Baptisms and Eucharists, the meal set before us is extravagant and holy. Then the Host invites you back again to join Him next week!

Dear Jesus, thank you for hosting me each week in the Divine Service at my church. Send out your invitation far and wide that more would come to know you and enjoy your most holy meal. Amen.