The Deep Work of the Holy Spirit

This week I walked into the sanctuary on Monday and things were different. The carpet in the sanctuary was being removed from the aisles and they were starting to remove sections of the carpet at the altar.  Scaffolding was set up in the back of the church and plastic was hung to protect the organ.  I must admit to you that it was a little bit jarring. We have talked about the renovations to the sanctuary, but when it’s actually upon you, it just feels different.  It’s messy. It’s a little uncomfortable.

For a moment it may even cause you to wonder, “Is this worth it?” Is it worth the dust and inconvenience.  It only took a minute for me to answer my own internal question.  “YES!”  It’s going to be beautiful to have the restorative changes to the pews and wood work and new carpet installed.  However, it takes me and you coming out of our comfort zones to get there.  

Most of you know, better than I do, that this is NOT the first time the congregation has gone through the process of building renovation. Being one of the oldest and most well preserved buildings in Detroit, it seems like there’s always a project to be done. How many other churches have actually been moved 880 feet? We have done this before. We can get through this!

As we experience the physical changes happening in our building, I want to challenge you to approach Pentecost with your heart and mind open to deep spiritual change. 

As I meditate on what happened to the early Church, I’m struck by the amount of change they went through. We’ve been talking a lot during Eastertide about how Jesus was consistently telling the disciples that he was going to leave and send the Holy Spirit. This was the first huge change. 

What about the change AFTER the Holy Spirit came, giving power to the Church as Jesus promised? In the very first day of the church, Peter stands up and gives a powerful sermon.  Acts 2 tells us that “about 3,0000 were added to their number that day.” (Acts 2:41) Do you think they had some growing pains? Of course they did.

By the early chapters of Acts, the budding church was already trying to figure out how to structure itself to accommodate the growing numbers. Acts 6 introduces the position of deacon for the distribution of food to those in need. There were new physical needs that needed to be addressed. But, let’s not forget there was much deeper internal changes taking place. Jews and Gentiles were coming together under the power of the Spirit.

The result of the Holy Spirit coming in power was mostly felt by those who were already part of the church.  The Apostles and the other disciples Jesus walked with for 3 years, literally were given the supernatural ability to speak the languages of others. They were finally starting to have a better understanding of the Kingdom of God. Their own spiritual growth was taking place alongside the numerical growth of the Church. 

This Sunday, let’s celebrate Pentecost with openness and expectation for what God has for us today. I am praying that we continue to learn what it means to surrender to the Holy Spirit and receive the power He wants to give to us.  As we pray and surrender to the power of the Spirit, we can be surprised by the new mercies God renews over us every morning. It amazes me that His unconditional love is an infinite source. There is more of Himself He desires to reveal to us, more blessings He desires to pour over us. We honor the deep work of the Spirit in us when we open our hearts and minds and surrender ourselves to Him.  

The progression of the deep internal change of the Spirit in us may not be as easily identified as external changes. So, let’s practice patience, grace, love and respect toward one another when facing both types of changes.  We are a family, so let’s also be ready to help one another, since we all desire to grow deeper in being One with God. Pray for people to step into new roles. Pray for more families, single people, retirees, and college students to come and learn about our Holy God, and grow with us in expressing His love and glory to others.  

There are a couple more external changes already happening.  Soon we will be adding other instruments to the piano during the summer at the 8:30 service. The hope is that in the absence of the organ during construction, our 8:30 service can benefit from having meditative worship music that compliments our already established style of traditional Anglican worship. The 11 o’clock service will continue to have the choir accompanied by the piano in the absence of the organ.

As we continue to renovate the building and make some other small changes, please don’t hesitate to talk to me about ideas, questions, concerns, or opinions you have.  I want to talk through all these things as the body of Christ with respect and love.

We have exciting days ahead of us!  There will be some inconveniences and growing pains, but in the end I believe we will all be grateful to God for what He is doing.

More importantly, I pray our hearts and minds continue to be nurtured, molded and renewed by the power of the Spirit in us, so we can participate with Him in extending His Kingdom to others.

Blessings and peace,

Rev. Todd and Dr. Christiane