We celebrate Pentecost as the birth of the Church, the Body of Christ manifesting the Kingdom of God on Earth by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit initiated the Church by giving gifts that the people gathered in Jerusalem might know the mighty work of God and the power of His Kingdom. The same Spirit gave gifts to the early Church, as Paul describes to the church in Corinth, for the common good. Paul is much more systematic as he tells the church at Ephesus that “He [the Spirit] gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:11-12).
The same Holy Spirit continues to give gifts to the Church and to this church as He continues to give us apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. Notice this, the Spirit does not give to people a gifting. The Spirit gives people as a gift to the Church. The Spirit may give you as an apostle at some times, a prophet at others, a teacher, pastor or evangelist at others. Let us briefly look at these ways we are given to the church so that we may recognize the work of the Spirit.
The Spirit gives the Church apostles who are sent to declare and manifest the in-breaking Kingdom of God. They are empowered and equipped by the Holy Spirit to “go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons.” (Matthew 10:1-15). The Spirit calls, equips, and gives apostles to call forth the transformation of the world.
The Spirit gives the Church prophets who declare the will of God from His Word to His people in their current circumstances calling us to repentance and to service with special attention to the poor and the outcast. The Spirit calls, equips, and gives prophets to call forth the transformation of our will.
The Spirit gives the Church evangelists who proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom to those who have not heard, to invite them to participate in the Kingdom. The Spirit calls, equips, and gives evangelists to call forth the transformation of our relationships.
The Spirit gives the Church pastors who care for the people of God tending their souls, bringing comfort and healing. The Spirit calls, equips, and gives pastors to call forth the transformation of our souls.
The Spirit, whom Jesus describes as the Spirit of Truth, gives the Church teachers who reveal and describe the Truth from God’s Word and revelation. The Spirit calls, equips, and gives teachers to call forth the transformation of our minds.
As I write this reflection after attending our Diocesan Synod this week, I am more confident than ever that the Spirit has indeed given His Church these gifts. I am also confident as I prayed for each and every one of you, that the Spirit has given you to this parish as apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. I could see the way that each of you has been called, equipped, and given by the Spirit to this parish. I hope you can see this as well, in yourself and in others. One of the great ministries of the Spirit is the ministry of affirmation. Please take some time this week to pray that the Spirit reveal how He has given someone else to this parish in a particular role. Then, I ask you to go and tell them, thank them for their faithfulness, and thank God for His gift.