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Category: Pentecost (Page 1 of 10)

June 26 — Gifts of the Spirit today

Today’s Bible reading and an excerpt 

Read 1 Corinthians 12:1-11

A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.

gifts of the Spirit -- penguin style

More thoughts for meditation

Today’s reading describes the Spirit as a stable source from which different gifts flow. So there is one Spirit, but it’s not generic and won’t become obsolete, because its manifestations differ according to what each of us needs “so we can help each other.”

The question then is, what manifestations of the Spirit do we need today, now, in order to help each other? Ronald Rolheiser, in the beginning of the millennium, suggested that our generation has four unique spiritual disabilities:

  • our propensity for distraction,
  • our tendency to see individual fulfillment as salvation,
  • our proclivity for ideology and fundamentalism,
  • and our obsession with sexuality.

He goes on to say that we need a particularized Pentecost for this condition—a new and customized outpouring of the gifts of the Spirit so that we can help each other in these four areas.

  • For our distract-ability, he says, we need the spirit of wisdom.
  • For our individualism, we need the spirit of depth, resiliency, and understanding.
  • For our ideology, we need the spirit of hospitality, and
  • for our obsession with sexuality, we need the spirit of full respect.

Suggestions for action

What do we need a Pentecost for today? What are some of our current spiritual disabilities, and which gifts of the Spirit are their antidotes? Make a list of what particularly threatens our livelihood, holiness, and joy. Then, across from each item, name the manifestation of the Spirit we need, like, “the spirit of hospitality,” for example. Lastly, see if someone comes to mind with that spiritual gift, and write their name down too. Pray for everyone you’ve listed, and consider writing one of them a note or email about how you think they are integral to what the Spirit is doing in and through us, to help each other, for such a time as this.

Would you like to explore the spiritual gifts listed in today’s reading and elsewhere in the New Testament? You can find Bible studies and a “test” to take on The Way of Jesus site.

June 25 — Share the comfort of the Holy Spirit

Today’s Bible reading and an excerpt 

Read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Therefore comfort one another with these words.

comfort in the song

More thoughts for meditation

One of the hallmarks of the season of Pentecost is that Life, not death, has the last word. There are times to be in problem-solving mode, and there are times to step back and receive comfort by a glimpse of the bigger picture. We live in an eternal now with the God of all comfort.

Guigo the Carthusian, a medieval thinker, wrote about our life as a “continual attunement to all the syllables of the great song” (Thomas Merton, Faith and Violence). He warned that violence comes from “clinging madly to a single syllable,” rather than learning how to respond to the “whole song.” The Holy Spirit is called the comforter, and we are told to comfort each other with the reminder that God’s whole song is indeed good, trustworthy, and lovely.

When we sing, if we are listening, we are enveloped in the embrace of God who loves us, incarnate and transcendent all at once.

Suggestion for action

Let’s try to share the comfort of the Holy Spirit with someone today. Spend a few minutes in prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to bring to mind someone who is discouraged, who may be “clinging madly to a single syllable” in their life. Intercede for them by trying to listen to “the whole song” for them. Consider writing them an encouraging note, text, or email to say you thought of them and prayed for them.

June 24 – The roots of love in the reality of the Shema

Today’s Bible reading and an excerpt from it

Read Mark 12:28-31

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.

More thoughts for meditation

In pointing out four aspects of a human being, Jesus is simply calling together all that a person is. He was saying, “We surrender to love God with our entire beings.” He is not so interested in sorting out the individual sense of each word, but for our purposes, the nuances help us understand how we love.

  • Heart: Our ordinary awareness, primarily. The center of our ego, our sense of being a person. Feelings, desires, passions, reflection, moral conviction.
  • Soul: Our spiritual awareness. Where we most deeply connect with God. The life in us that transcends time. The place of accountability. The seat of sorrow, joy, suffering.
  • Mind: Our ordinary awareness, primarily. Where we are conscious. Our understanding, ethical awareness, inclinations, attitudes.
  • Strength: Not only bodily strength, but primarily. Our ability, capacity, potency. The power we are given to exercise.

Shema on KnessetWhen Jesus summarizes all the ways we love God he is quoting what is known as the Shema in Deuteronomy 6:4-9. The Shema is often the first scripture a Jewish child learns; many adult Jews recite it at least twice a day. It is usually reduced to “Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one” (like in the picture of the medallion at the Knesset building in Israel). The author of Deuteronomy stresses that this command is so important that it would be good to write it on our foreheads, to wear a string around our finger just to remember it, to write it on our doors, and to talk about it whenever we sit down, and then to keep talking about it when we get up and walk.

Jesus goes further and quotes the rest of the passage.  It is not so much that one knows and honors who God is as a matter of fact; it is more a matter of love. Jesus says that all the law and the prophets (basically the entire first testament) “hang,” depend on, not just on God’s reality, but on our self-giving love—the two commands to love God with everything we are and to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Suggestion for action

As the full Shema encourages, let’s spend some time thinking about these greatest commandments. Grab a piece of paper and draw four columns on it, with the headings Heart, Soul, Mind, Strength. Then, in each column, write bullet points of what it means in your life to love God in each dimension. When you’ve spent some time on each, step back and pick the area you think you’re strongest in, and which area is least familiar to you. Celebrate your strength. Then decide how to focus today on that weaker faculty, through your to-do list, your prayers, your thoughts, and even your time with others. If it’s “heart,” try to bring your heart into everything a little more than normal. If it’s soul, think about engaging your soul in everything, using some of the ideas you came up with. If it’s mind, try to be present, attentive, thoughtful and responsive. If it is strength, consider how to get stronger. See if you can tire yourself out, trying to love God so fully. Then rest in fullness.

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