Central to the message of Jesus and early Christianity is the affirmation that God is with us in the world through the presence of the Holy Spirit. And that the Holy Spirit warms us and melts our hearts making us more aware of what it means to be a follower of Christ. Recently I ran across a modern parable that illustrates the point more clearly.
Once upon a time there was a piece of iron, which was very strong and very hard. Many attempts had been made to break it, but all had failed.
“I’ll master it,” said the axe…and his blows fell heavily upon the piece of iron, but every blow only made the axe’s edge more dull. The axe finally ceased to strike and gave up in frustration.
“Leave it to me,” said the saw…and it worked back and forth on the iron’s surface until its jagged teeth were all worn and broken. Then in despair, the saw quit trying and fell to the side.
“Ah!” said the hammer, “I knew you two wouldn’t succeed. I’ll show you how to do this!” But at the first fierce blow, off flew its head and the piece of iron remained just as before, proud, hard and unchanged.
“Shall I try?” asked a small soft flame of fire. “Forget it,” everyone else said. “What can you do? You’re too small and you do not have enough strength.” But the small flame curled around the piece of iron, embraced it fully…and never left it until the iron melted under its warm irresistible influence.
The sacred scriptures employ the image of “a flame of fire” as representative of the work of the Holy Spirit. The way of the Spirit is not the way of force but love. It is not to break our hearts but to melt us, mold us, fill us, and use us under the irresistible warmth of God’s gracious love. This coming Sunday, June 9, is the culmination of Eastertide with the celebration of the Day of Pentecost on the liturgical calendar of the church. We will commemorate this day by focusing on the story of Pentecost in Acts chapter two through our worship and music.
I will also introduce my new summer sermon series titled “The Twelve: Searching for the Apostles of Jesus.” The first apostle we will consider is Simon Peter who played a central role in the first Pentecost that led to the birth of the universal Church of Jesus Christ as we know it today.
This Pentecost Sunday will also be Membership Sunday where we will welcome new friends in to our community of faith. It will be an exciting day of worship and I can’t wait to see you! Please join me in praying this week that all of us will experience afresh and anew the infilling of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in our life! Like that piece of iron, may the warm flame of the Spirit wrap itself around us and melt and mold us in to what God wants us be. May the richest Pentecostal blessings of God be upon you!
See you Sunday!
P.S. Bishop N.T. Wright’s “Paul: A Biography” is the book I’ve chosen for this year’s Summer Institute of Religious Studies and the book will once again be available for purchase or pickup this Sunday at the Welcome Center outside the sanctuary. Additionally, I’ve selected a new book of the month for June that corresponds with and elaborates on my new sermon series. The book is “The Search for the Twelve Apostles” by William Steuart McBirnie, P.H.D, and begins where the Bible stories end. McBirnie explores the legends, traditions and real lives of Jesus’ closest followers. As always, you can find it on smile.amazon.com.