Jesus said “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses . . . to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
As we began with Jesus, following and learning and growing, we go forward in the Spirit – Jesus present with us, even now. Wow!
The book of Acts describes how that Spiritual power came upon the first disciples, enabling them to do the things Jesus did – and to carry out the mission he gave them. The early church grew dramatically as the Spirit empowered leaders to be the hands, feet, voice, even the presence of Jesus Christ in their communities and their world. That same Spirit caused John Wesley to feel his heart “strangely warmed” at Aldersgate and empowered his ministry. Wesley’s writings help us understand how the Spirit moves us forward in following Jesus to become more like Jesus (“sanctifying grace”). And the Spirit can empower us now as the church seeks to bring the grace and peace and healing of Jesus to our communities and our world. To bear fruit in our ministry.
As we conclude this series of “Ten Words for a Fruitful Lay Ministry”, we move forward in the Spirit. I’ll admit there’s a lot I don’t understand about just how the Spirit works. Images come to mind such as wind, flame, still voice, warming. Fruit (results) of the Spirit are seen in individual lives, such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control (Gal. 5:22-23). But I do know that God’s Spirit is alive and at work. Today, even in our church. Even in your congregation.
Are you drawing upon the Spirit in your lay ministry? When we recognize that we can’t do this work ourselves, but that we must allow God to touch lives and change hearts, we actually become free. We work hard, but seek God’s spiritual energy and power, that divine guidance, in all our work. We keep going, knowing that the Spirit worked in leaders before us, enables our own ministry, and will continue in others after we’re gone. The better we stay connected to Jesus (the vine) through his ongoing Spirit, the more fruit we will bear (see John 15:5).
I’d like to conclude this series with a prayer to the Holy Spirit. This should be familiar to many of you, as it comes from The Upper Room Emmaus Movement:
“Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And you shall renew the face of the earth. O God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy your consolations. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.”
THANKS again for your leadership – may you be empowered by the Spirit and bear much fruit!
Brian Hammons, Lay Leader MO Conference of the UMC