Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day and Pentecost Sunday

This weekend is a collision of sorts on the calendar--today is Memorial Day and yesterday was Pentecost Sunday.

As I prepared for Sunday's message, I couldn't decide, "Do I emphasize Memorial Day and talk about how Jesus is our hope over death? Or, do I celebrate Pentecost Sunday and the ministry of the Holy Spirit?"

Then I thought about those old TV commercials of Reese's Peanut Butter Cup--where a chocolate bar and a jar of peanut butter collide--and decided to observe both the general calendar and the church calendar.

And what resulted is this thought: What the Holy Spirit does best is give life.

The Holy Spirit gives us earthly life. Psalm 104:29-30, the psalmist meditates on the splendor of creation and declares to the Lord, "When you take away their breath, they die and return to the dust. When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth." On this Memorial Weekend, we gives thanks for those whom the Spirit gave life.

The Holy Spirit gives us Christian life. This week, my four-year-old son said, "Daddy, I wish I could have 2 birthdays." According to Jesus, you can--and must! In John 3, Jesus declares, "No one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.'" How we experience the Spirit's birth is contained in John 3:16--believing in Jesus.

The Holy Spirit gives us resurrected life. There's an old hymn, "When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be." Indeed that's true, but heaven isn't the end of the Christian story. One day, God will raise up our bodies. Romans 8:10-11 says, "But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you."

John Stott explains the ultimate impact of the Spirit's work in his Romans commentary: "The ultimate destiny of our body is not death, but resurrection... [which] includes transformation, the raising and changing of our body into a new and glorious vehicle of personality--liberated from all frailty, disease, pain, decay, and death."

What the Spirit does best is give life. So today, "Live by the Spirit" and "Keep in step with the Spirit" (Galatians 5:16, 25).

No comments: