Thoughts from the Pastor...

by Pastor Jeffrey M. Halenza

          If someone were to ask each of us, “How have you made it to this day, to this point in your life?” chances are most of us would list such things as hard work, faith in God, discipline, taking advantage of opportunities, believing in ourselves, persistence, taking care of ourselves and the like. Upon further thought, we might add the influence, support, and love of certain people -  parents, spouses, teachers, and friends. And there would be a great deal of truth in all of this.
          Yet, if we were to think carefully and honestly about all the years and about all that has happened to us and what we have done -- the terrible mistakes we have made, the great losses, the missed opportunities and all the rest -- we might wonder just how have we made it to this day. Suddenly we might realize something is missing in all the explanations and reasons we give. All our explanations and reasons, even all our faith and effort, finally do not give the answer. There is something more.
         And if we were to ask how this or that church has made it through the years, chances are the first answer would be the faith, love, and support of its members and there would be a great deal of truth in that. Yet still something would be missing in all the explanations and reasons we give. There is something more.
          What is missing, the something more that is at work, is what is called the Holy Spirit.
          Sunday, May 24th is Pentecost Sunday, the day on which we hear the story of the disciples being gripped by the Holy Spirit. They were transformed from being frightened followers of Jesus who could do nothing, into being bold, courageous disciples who had surprising abilities and powers. The story of those individuals and churches becomes the story of the Spirit -- the Spirit is the explanation for all that happened. Nearly half of the church year is devoted to the work of the Spirit and for good reason.    
         But for most of us the notion of theHoly Spirit is a strange one that makes usrather uncomfortable. We think of“holyrollers”, speaking in tongues, or other odd behaviors that embarrass us, and so the temptation is to ignore the Spirit. But to ignore it is to ignore the very thing which gives life and power to us and to the Church. Yet how are we to understand it?
          Well, perhaps the best place to begin is with our own lives and with our own congregation. When we think carefully and honestly, what we will realize, I think, is that something beyond ourselves is at work: leading us, guiding us, pushing us, comforting us, challenging us, changing us, saving us, and putting life and hope into us.
          Somebody suddenly comes into our
life when we desperately need a
          We find ourselves in a place we don’t
want to be and yet strangely it becomes
the place we most need to be and turns
out to be the place we want to be after
         An opportunity comes which is not
what we want and which we resist and
yet we follow it anyway even though
we’re not sure why and it turns out to
be just what we were looking for…
          Into our emptiness and deadness
suddenly comes life and hope…
          Our plans and ideas are not
followed and yet the plans and ideas
that are followed and which we resist
turn out to be better and we no longer
         We survive our mistakes when there
is no good reason why we should.
Healing comes, and in spite of our fear,
we act with courage…

          All of this is the Holy Spirit.

          It is the power of God that grips us, surprises us, and puts life into us. It is the power of the Risen Christ active in our lives. It is truly how we have made it to this day and to be open to it, to allow it to work, to get out of its way and let it work its way, is to experience wonder and hope and joy!

                                                                                                                                                            God be with you,