Take a few minutes to push the “pause” button on whatever is going on around you and be still with God.
Acts 10:44-48 (NRSV)
While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, for they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter said, “Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” So he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they invited him to stay for several days.
I was in my early twenties when I was asked to work with the youth at my church. I was a single young woman who was barely out of the “youth stage” so I found this task daunting. I have teenagers of my own now, so I understand why I was asked. Those poor parents needed a break from the teen angst. The first few weeks rocked along with at most 3 youth attending. They were the ones whose parents made them come. Then a fun trip was planned. Youth came out of the woodwork to go on a youth retreat which involved snow skiing and horseback riding. Back home, our Director of Christian Education and our pastor was praying for our trip. I’m sure the parents were praying pretty hard too. Thank goodness the pastor’s wife and another youth leader came along and helped me break up sibling fights and curtailed the horseplay and bodily function noises and jokes. Later in the evening, everyone simmered down for me to lead what we called a “session”.
It was then that something miraculous happened. I believe that those prayers from everyone back home were effective. We were in the presence of the Holy Spirit. A dozen or more teenagers opened up about their fears and insecurities. We talked about Jesus, the importance of prayer and of working on being authentic Christians. The Holy Spirit was at this gathering. From that moment on, this dozen or more kids became a community of believers. This was almost 30 years ago and this group still has a special bond with each other and with our Church. But most importantly, they experienced Jesus.
This passage says that Peter was astounded. So often Church Leaders feel like all of the responsibility of ministry falls solely upon them. This wonderful account reminds us that it is not at all about us, but about what God can do through the Holy Spirit. And it is often astounding.
Loving and Holy God, Thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit. May we always be receptive to the gifts your spirit brings. In Christ’s name, Amen.
Go with God!