May 27, 2012

Pentecost and Abandonment

This is Memorial Day weekend. Sunday is Pentecost, which has been called the "birthday of the church."  It is when the Holy Spirit came to the disciples as Jesus had promised. He said, "I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high." (Luke 24:49) So they "devoted themselves to prayer" while waiting for this promise. I wonder if they discussed what this 'promise' would be and if they had any comprehension of the many changes that would happen to them. I think that is true to anyone who is open to the work of the Holy Spirit.
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. (Acts 2:1-4)
Many people have said that the Holy Spirit is the least mentioned member of the Trinity. I don’t know if that’s true, but I know my finite mind has difficulty comprehending the Power that must have been present in that upper room in Jerusalem 2000 years ago!
Even though that is true, we can still allow that Power and Love to enter and transform our lives too this Pentecost Sunday and beyond. The Galilean fishermen and others gathered in that upper room went out into Jerusalem inspired by the Holy Spirit and their witness ‘turned the world upside down.’ The Holy Spirit was given to the first apostles and which gave them and us the courage to proclaim the greatness of our God in our lives.
You may not have had an experience where the wind and fire of the Spirit surrounded you. Like the people with Moses at the holy mountain, who said ‘you intercede for us,’ we mostly prefer to stay safely away from God’s smoke and fire. But don’t we feel just a bit jealous of those who have stood by a burning bush or in the flash of God’s lightening been blinded like Moses and Paul. In truth we don't have to be afraid of the power of God, though.
Our lives will be changed, without a doubt if we let the Holy Spirit act. Unconditionally offering ourselves to God can seem dangerous. Just look how the lives of Moses and Paul and the disciples changed. However, maybe being fully abandoned to God might just be the way to live fully. Charles de Foucauld calls us to just such giving of self in his “Prayer of Abandonment.”

Father, I abandon myself into your hands;
do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you:
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me,
and in all Your creatures -
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul;
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you Lord,
and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands,
without reserve,
and with boundless confidence,
For you are my Father.

John Michael Talbot sings his version of this prayer here.
During the next few weeks let’s look together at what that type of abandonment might mean to our part of the world and to our lives and ministries. How would you and I be changed if we truly surrendered to God, knowing that God’s Spirit will be with us?

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