Pr. Cathy Daharsh
We have been reading through the book of Acts since May, exploring how God used the events in the lives of the earliest church to spread the Good News of what Jesus had done for them. In many ways we could call the book of Acts, the Acts of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit got the disciples out of that upper room in the first place. So for us today, I would like to think that we are living out the sequel, the Continued Acts of the Holy Spirit. You and I today have access to the same Holy Spirit that Paul, Peter, John and the others had in the times of the early church. The same spirit that showed them where to go, gave them words to speak, gave them power to heal, and caught fire in the hearts and souls of millions as the Gospel spread. The big question is how do we stay open to a life that is connected and empowered by the Spirit of God?
I think of the Holy Spirit being a bit like music on the radio. Buzzing all around us are radio waves carrying signals from hundreds and thousands of different sources. And with a radio we can single out and tune in to those frequencies. The power and presence of Christ is among us, but how do we tune in? How do we connect and engage?
One way that God speaks to us and the Holy Spirit guides our lives is through prayer. Any moment of the Holy Spirit guiding people in the book of Acts is accompanied by prayer of the people seeking out and being open to God’s call for them. I know for many people prayer is not always comfortable. Some of you have told me you don’t know where to get started or how to pray. In church we pray in a more formal way, which I think can be intimidating, but that’s only one way of praying. I believe that the prayers in church give us words to pray, especially, in those times when we can’t find our own words.
I always find it so touching when I am at the bedside of someone who is dying, and they mouth their memorized words of the Lord’s Prayer as I pray it with them. When my Grandpa Lorier was dying, my son’s Aaron and Mitchell sang the song “Jesus Loves Me,” a song of praise and trust in God that they learned in church. My grandpa was only hours from dying, but as Aaron and Mitchell sang grandpa raised his arms toward heaven almost in his own prayer to God to say, “I believe and trust in you.”
Prayer develops our relationship with God so that me might be in tune with God’s work in our lives and all around us. Prayer gives God room to speak to us. Prayer can be just being honest with God and telling God about our day and what we are thinking about, even and especially, the not so good stuff. Prayer can also be giving thanks for hope and happiness in our lives. Prayer can be following along with the church’s assigned readings and thinking and meditating on how the readings connect to you and the world. Christ is with us and to acknowledge that through prayer can make room for God’s Spirit to work through us.
The work that began in the book of Acts continues today in us. God has extended the invitation and the opportunity to anyone who would take it. We just need to tune in. Every day, every meeting, every class, trip to the coffee shop, dinner with a friend, bike ride or hike, is an opportunity to pray and develop our relationship with God. But, even if we don’t pray Christ is still with us and God’s Spirit is still at work. For this we say, “Thanks be to God.” Amen.