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Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Holy Spirit

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‘Fellow Israelites,I may say to you confidently of our ancestor David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would put one of his descendants on his throne. Foreseeing this, David spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, saying,
“He was not abandoned to Hades,
   nor did his flesh experience corruption.”
This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses.-Acts 2: 30-32

The most unreliable evidence in a court of law, I am told, is the eyewitness.  Witnesses are biased.  Witnesses forget the facts.  Witnesses can only speak from their perspective.  Witnesses cannot be counted upon to get it right.  Now, back in the day, this was not how things were thought to be.  They placed tremendous faith in witnesses; the testimony of those who were present for an event.  And this emphasis is evident in this passage from Acts.  As Peter concludes his first testimony about the risen Christ, we can imagine him gesturing the disicples present with him and sayin, "This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us (insert gesture here) are witnesses."  Clearly he felt this had some power.

But what about today?  We don't trust witnesses as much, so should we distrust the disciples?  Well, no, of course not.  But why not?  They were people, they were fallible, they were biased.  Yes, they were all these things, but there is another witness to these events who is in a different category altogther...the Holy Spirit!  The Spirit, too, was present in that moment since it was by and through the Spirit that Peter spoke.  This passage is immediately preceded by Pentecost, the bestowing of the Holy Spirit on the disciples, and it is the Spirit that gives creedance to their testimony, in fact, it is the Spirit that gives creedance to the entire venture of the Church.  Think of it this way. The Church has made many terrible mistakes over the course of its history, and yet, from generation to generation it survives. Is this because of people?  No.  It is because this thing, as flawed as it may be, is still blessed with the Holy Spirit to make sure that the Church doesn't get everything wrong.  The Holy Spirit is present in the Church and the lives of the believers.  If we think about it, then we will realize that, of that all of us are witnesses.

Prayer:  Holy God, help me to feel your Spirit in my life and in my church.  Let that Spirit move me and shape me and guide me.  Without it, I cannot serve you.  I pray in Jesus' name.  Amen.

[Phillip Blackburn, First Presbyterian Church]

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