The Spirit Knows

posted Aug 17, 2018, 12:06 PM by Tricia Sheffield

Grace and peace to you in the name of God our Creator and our Savior Jesus Christ! 

I’ve been reading a book on The Heidelberg Catechism (HC), one of the four standards of unity in the Reformed tradition, and my favorite one of them all. The author is pastor and President of Princeton Theological Seminary, M. Craig Barnes, and the title is Body & Soul: Reclaiming The Heidelberg Catechism. It’s a refreshing look at the HC. It’s not an academic or historical study, but rather, it’s a pastoral study and a statement of faith that interweaves aspects of our everyday lives with the theology of the HC. It is a book about comfort, assuring us that we belong, body and soul, “in all things, both wonderful and horrific” to our God.

This book has been just what I’ve needed to read in these times for our congregation. For as much as we share joy with one another on Sunday and throughout the week, our fabulous church of love has been experiencing some deep sadness. We have witnessed tragic and sudden deaths of loved ones and pets; unexpected diagnoses of illnesses and hospital stays; struggles in caring for aging loved ones; worry about young adults as they maneuver through their world; and concern over lack of employment and finances. I’ve been praying often, asking the Holy Spirit to be the Advocate and Comforter who was promised, as I’ve listened to people’s concerns and watched them cry. At times my heart has hurt, as I’ve sat silently, attempting to be a witness to the Holy. 

And then I read HC Question and Answer #53 and Barnes commentary on it and it resounded deeply within my soul, almost reverberating throughout my body.

Question: What do you believe concerning "the Holy Spirit"? 

Answer: First, that the Spirit, with the Father and the Son, is eternal God. Second, that the Spirit is given also to me, so that, through true faith, he makes me share in Christ and all his benefits through true faith, comforts me, and will remain with me forever.

Barnes says, So as a pastor, when I consider the diverse needs of the people I serve, I have to trust the Holy Spirit to do for them what I cannot . . . By adopting us into the Son’s beloved status with the Father, the Spirit restores our created identity as children of God. And nothing can take that away. We can’t even take it away from ourselves. That’s because the Spirit remains with us forever.

Through the Spirit they [the congregation] receive solace from someone who doesn’t just know how they feel, but who has the power to heal and restore their hearts. The Spirit knows how life is.

Yes, the Spirit certainly does know.

I am grateful for the Spirit who knows just where we are and what we need. I am grateful for the Spirit who does for us what we might not necessarily know what to do for each other. I am grateful for the Spirit who remains with us forever, despite all of our best efforts to shake free or go it alone. 

But mostly, I am grateful for the Spirit who knows how life is

I will see you in worship on Sunday. Know I am trusting the Spirit to bind herself to you and never let you go.

In gratitude for the privilege of being your Pastor, and the holy call of loving you,

Pastor Trish