Rector's Reflections - 22 May

Rector’s Reflections   

Wednesday 22nd May 2024

Come, Holy Ghost, our Souls Inspire

Over the last few days,  I have been sharing some reflections on the hymn  “Come , Holy Ghost, our souls inspire”.  We have now come to the end of the hymn.

The end is not what we might have expected: instead of a four line verse, the final verse is only two lines long. It is also sung to a different melody. The final verse reads as follows:

Praise to thy eternal merit,

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Why does the hymn finish like this?

The hymn finishes in this way because it wishes to make three fundamental points about the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

To start with, it is asking the question: where is the focus of our lives? Are we focussed solely on ourselves, and what we can do in our own strength?  Or are we focussed on God, on God’s goodness, love and power?  God’s goodness, love and power are infinitely greater than our own.  Prayer to and for the Holy Spirit directs our attention away from our own merits, which are imperfect and limited, and places it firmly on God’s eternal merit.  In short, the Holy Spirit focusses us on the God Himself.

When we focus on God, we are engaged in worship in its broadest sense. Worship isn’t limited to coming to Church to say our prayers and sing God’s praises.  Whenever we focus on God and give Him the respect which is his due, we are offering our worship to Him. When we recognise the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, we are honouring the presence and power of God Himself. So prayer for the gift of the Holy Spirit is in itself an act of praise.

But the Holy Spirit does not usually come into our lives unless He is invited to do so.  We need to ask for the gift of Holy Spirit, and agree to receive the gift when it comes.  God has given us the power  to deny His presence and  reject His gifts, should we choose to do so.  God doesn’t force us to pray for the Holy Spirit, and neither does He force us to accept the gift or gifts which the Holy Spirit wishes to give us.  If we wish to receive the help of the Holy Spirit, we have to say “yes” to God .  The Holy Spirit invites us into an active partnership with God – and we are always free to say no.  One the sadnesses of our lives as individuals and as church communities is that it often feels easier for us to say “no” than that to say “yes”.  God understands this, and He is patient with us – but I think our frequent failure to say “yes” to His Holy Spirit must bring sadness into the heart of God.  He is waiting for us to “yes” to His Holy Spirit, but we are too stubborn or fearful to do so.  In the language of the Church , God is waiting for us to utter a loud Amen, for the word “Amen” is a way of saying “So be it”.  When we say the word “Amen”, we are saying Yes to God.

I wonder: if we look at own lives, where might God be waiting for us to say our own “Amen” to the gift of the Holy Spirit? Let us pray for the humility and trust we need to invite God’s Holy Spirit into our lives. God’s Holy Spirit is knocking at the door. Will we let Him in?


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