Shut Up and Watch the Spirit Move

Wesley Chapel Episcopal Church, Wesley Chapel, FL
Preacher: The Rev. Adrienne R. Hymes
Trinity Sunday/Year C: June 16, 2019
Gospel: John 16:12-15

Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty. God in three persons, blessed Trinity.[1]

Posted by Wesley Chapel Episcopal Church on Sunday, June 16, 2019

If you haven’t figured it out yet, today is Trinity Sunday.  This is the Sunday when the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, gets some serious air time.  All across our churches preachers will share many images in an attempt to make sense of this strange formula of 1+1+1=1.  Certainly, the Doctrine of the Trinity is at the heart of the monotheistic Christian faith.

As a life-long Episcopalian, formed in the Anglican tradition, I suspect that for many years, I took the Holy Spirit for granted because the Holy Spirit is embedded in the life and work of the Church—just look at the Nicene Creed; our Baptismal Covenant and the Holy Eucharist.

Yes, year after year, on Trinity Sunday, the Holy Spirit gets serious air time in churches, but I wonder if that air time translates into serious heart time calling the faithful into relationship with God the Holy Spirit.

Over 10 years ago, I experienced serious heart time with the Holy Spirit. A remarkable woman of God, Mother Albertine Rouse, was first ordained in the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME).  Later in life she became an Episcopal priest and my spiritual mother.  She helped to strengthen my understanding of, and relationship with, the third person of the Trinity.  I recall telling her a story, and rather flippantly, I said that I “showed up” at the seminary.

She fixed her eyes on me, straightened her back, and said to me in a loving, yet stern voice (the AME preacher’s voice)—“Baby girl, you didn’t just ‘show up’ at the seminary.  People don’t just ‘show up’ at the seminary.  You need to be real clear that you were led there by the Holy Spirit.” That one statement awakened my awareness of the Holy Spirit’s abiding, active presence in my life.   I was reminded that being led by the Holy Spirit—the third person of the Trinity—is being led by God.

Around that same time, I was preparing for a very important meeting with my bishop in Los Angeles. Mother Albertine again shared words of wisdom, “Baby Girl, you talk a lot. In this meeting, ask your question. Then shut up…and watch the Holy Spirit move.” I followed her instruction, and the Holy Spirit not only moved, but set in motion a whirlwind chain of events that would lead me to Virginia Theological Seminary; a one-year chaplain residency in Clearwater; the spirit-filled home congregation at Ascension in Cleawater; and to this diocese that also moves with the intensely vibrant Holy Spirit.  I am very clear that I did not just “show up” here; I was led to serve this faith community by the Holy Spirit.  And, by the power of the Holy Spirit, I am able to testify to you today that being led by the Holy Spirit is being led by God.

In our Gospel passage, Jesus was with his disciples the night before the Passover. Knowing that his hour had come, Jesus had a bit of a cram session with the disciples about his identity and what they should expect once he was no longer with them.  Jesus’ focus was not on a mathematical equation; nor was it on the Doctrine of the Trinity. Jesus focused on maintaining relationship with the disciples after his death and resurrection through the expression of God’s self as the Spirit of Truth.

Jesus was deep into the cram session when he told the disciples that he still had much more to say to them, but they could not bear it at that time.  He knew the limited human capacity for grasping the infinite being of God, but offered them a preview of the coming attraction.

“When the Spirit of truth comes,” Jesus said to his disciples, “He will guide you into all the truth.” Translation: I am the truth. When my Spirit comes, he will guide you into a deep, abiding relationship with the Father and me, for we are one.

When Jesus said to his disciples that the Spirit of Truth will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and will declare to them the things to come, I am reminded of the prophets of the Hebrew Bible. I am reminded of Jesus himself, who was a prophet, and more than a prophet. And, in this season of Pentecost, I am reminded of the Church as prophet.

The Church uniquely exists to restore all people to unity with God and with each other through Jesus Christ.  In our increasingly secularized society, the disunity amongst the many denominational and non-denominational expressions of the institutional Church has slowly silenced the Church’s prophetic voice.

The Holy Spirit is the Soul of the Church, and it seems to me that, in light of such division, even within our own Anglican Communion, we as the Church’s body, are called to do some serious soul searching. This searching of the Church’s soul may require that we risk asking tough questions. And, it may simply demand that we shut up, get out the Holy Spirit’s way and watch the Spirit move!

God is bigger than our rational mind can grasp.  The Triune God is not a static being. God is eternally in relationship with God’s self, for the purpose of God’s outpouring of self in Trinitarian ways.  This eternal self-giving invites humankind to be taken up into the glorious dance of equality and mutuality unified in the Godhead.

Through our baptism into Christ’s death and resurrection, we are taken up into this dynamic dance of God’s self-revelation to humankind.  The Triune God is the ultimate model for unity in diversity through the bond of mutual love.

Participating in the life of the Triune God means that we must embody, more fully, the ideal community to which God has called His Church—a community that exists to bring about justice, love and equality in the world.  A community that remains true to its mission by immersing itself ever more deeply into the Lord’s own dying and rising.[2]

With only three more Sundays of worship in this current space Wesley Chapel Episcopal Church has been blessed with the space to grow and to invite God’s people into the dynamic Trinitarian Dance. The Holy Spirit is moving and so are we—literally and spiritually.

Let us be faithful in reflecting into the world, God the Father (creator and sustainer), God the Son (God’s eternal Word and self-disclosure to humankind) and God the Holy Spirit (God’s presence in the world today)—together they form the model for the life of the Church, reflecting the eternal unity in diversity that God intends for all of humanity.

Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty. God in three persons, blessed Trinity.

Amen.


[1] The Hymnal 1982. Hymn 362, “Holy, Holy, Holy.” (New York: Church Publishing Incorporated), 1985.
[2] Mark McIntosh, Mysteries of Faith. (Boston: Cowley, 2000). 83.