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  • Writer's picturePastor Margot Wright

The Summer of the Spirit

Naming the summer. A summer theme for us to work on as a family. We were a newly blended family with both of us working and a lot of teenage angst and attitude. We called it the “Summer of Self-sufficiency”. Even as our children had the summer “off” from school, we were both working.

To have them ask to me to make their meals, give them rides, find entertaining and interesting things to do was not going to work as a one-way street. We didn’t have some of the resources we had in the past for camps and classes, vacations and outings to entertain. We would be able to do some of those things and it would need to be balanced with work schedules. The intention was that together we could balance the gifts, time, resources of each one of us. Clearly capable of making their own breakfasts and lunches, helping with chores, reading books, playing games, arranging for their own rides and connections with friends and creating their own entertainment- we set out some parameters for the summer.

It helped to give it a name. The Summer of Self-sufficiency united us in common aim- as you can probably imagine their participation was initially involuntarily conscripted. Hunger is a great motivator to take out the bread and lunch meat, make the boxed macaroni and cheese and help plan ahead and negotiate items for the grocery list. When the response to “I’m bored” was met with “let me get out that list of extra chores that need to be done” it was amazing how self-entertaining they could become. When the cost of entry to the water park or movies was broken down into hours of work it would take to afford it for us they often agreed to take on “paid” chores to cover the costs- the trips and entertainment took on new value when they paid their own way.

Patience, persistence, prayer, and practice. Learning along the way -the Summer of Self-sufficiency taught all of us a lot about ourselves and one another. When cousins came to visit and learned that they too would be required to pitch in, participate and be patient I realized by naming the summer and having a plan it helped all of us.

So…… As summer is soon upon us now in 2020 and we start the season of Pentecost in the church year calendar; I am inviting you to join in the Summer of the Spirit.

Let’s be intentional in our life together over these next months. How is the Spirit alive and at work in and among us? As we share God Sightings we identify the work of the Spirit. Patience, persistence, prayer and practice will all be elements, for sure.

For the 2020 Summer of the Spirit together we can explore the work and power of the Holy Spirit in our lives and in our community. Ww will give ourselves lots of time to learn and grow.

Often the focus on Jesus and God overshadow the Holy Spirit as an equal expression of our triune God. Perhaps by history or denominational affiliation, we have not paid as much attention to the Holy Spirit. In our Lutheran expression of Christianity often the Spirit doesn’t get as much front and center time and attention.

This Summer of the Spirit get more familiar and comfortable with both our theological heritage and the biblical witness of the Holy Spirit. Below are a couple starting places for this week; one from the Small Catechism and the other from the Scripture readings for this coming weekend and the celebration of Pentecost.

From Luther’s Small Catechism:

The Third Article of the Apostle’s Creed: On Being Made Holy

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.

What is this? or What does this mean?

I believe that by my own understanding or strength I cannot believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to him, but instead the Holy Spirit has called me through the gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, made me holy and kept me in the true faith, just as he calls, gathers, enlightens, and makes holy the whole Christian church on earth and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one common, true faith. Daily in this Christian church the Holy Spirit abundantly forgives all sins—mine and those of all believers. On the last day the Holy Spirit will raise me and all the dead and will give to me and all believers in Christ eternal life. This is most certainly true.

As we celebrate Pentecost - the unleashing of the Holy Spirit to the earliest disciples after Jesus’ Ascension we read Acts 2:1-21,1 Corinthians 12:3b-13 and John 7:37-39. Check out all the ways we hear about the Spirit in these bible readings-perhaps you circle in your bible all the mentions of Spirit.

Taking time to read and reflect on these scripture readings; what words or phrases stick out for you? The workings of the Spirit can often be connected to dreams, visions, art, beauty. Did you memorize parts of the Catechism as a Confirmation student and does it bring back memories? Memories of the past can also ignite plans for the future. In this first week of Summer of the Spirit would you be willing to choose a word or a phrase from the Creed, the Explanation or one of the above Scripture readings and use it in a prayer, write about in a journal reflection, listen for it in music? This piece of music often inspires me. Maybe there is poem to be written, a piece of art to be created, a prayer to be shared…..where is the Spirit leading you? The prayers Ted Loder writes are powerful for me.

This week I have been inspired by a reflection from 2014 in Working Preacher by David Lose. You can read that here. Dreaming. Would you join with me in this Summer of the Spirit by dreaming together? How is the Spirit calling us through the gospel, enlightening us with gifts of the Holy Spirit, making us holy and keeping us true in faith? What might the Holy Spirit’s dream be for us as faith community? What are the Spirit’s dreams for you personally?

As the season of Pentecost begins, as well as summer -together let’s discern and dream, let’s sing and pray, let’s be ignited, fueled, create and curious. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are given to each of us and they are meant to be shared. It is going to take all of us together to sort through what being “gathered" will look like in the new reality of COVID19. Maybe the Spirit is calling you to help serve on our re-opening committee or help with the additional financial resources we will need to create safe meeting spaces? Are you gifted at writing policy as we incorporate new practices and procedures for the use of our facilities?

It is going to take the inspiration and power of the Holy Spirit to keep us together united in seeking God’s will for us as a faith community. Leaning into and trusting in the abundant forgiveness of all sins we are set free to love, serve and grow, even as so much has changed and will change the power of the Spirit is with us. Here is another inspirational go to” song for me when I am weary. What music inspires you?

The Summer of Self-sufficiency put into place some “new norms” for us and our children- after that we would never again do their laundry, make all of their meals or try to come up with ideas for them when we heard ,”I’m bored”. They were empowered to live and learn from both their successes and their failures, their strengths and their frailties. The decision to forgo cable t.v. was part of that summer plan- Dan still talks about how we made that decision when he was out of the room. We learned it’s important to include everyone as much as you can and that “when you snooze you lose” can sometimes come into play.

It was a lot of learning and often very challenging. That summer would forever change us as family. We learned so much about ourselves and one another.

Now ten years later, we are still learning about how we are connected, how to ask for and accept help, and what is and isn’t worth investments of time and money. Now as parents of young adults in their twenties it still takes ongoing patience, persistence, prayer and practice.

What we started learning that summer with our children is going to help me in our life together now as we go into the Summer of the Spirit. It’s amazing how the Spirit works in strange and mysterious ways.

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