Hymn 661 verse 4.
The peace of God, it is no peace, but strife closed in the sod.
Yet let us pray for but one thing—the marvelous peace of God.
Somehow I feel that we have not fully understood all that is involved, nor all that is possible through the experience of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The Spirit of God is the same Spirit that formed light out of nothing, exploding reality into existence. The Spirit of God is what has guided and continues to guide all the planets, and the smallest atoms in their various courses. We Baptize and Confirm in the forms of our structured liturgies, and in such we lay hands on those who are claiming their faith as being sealed and strengthened by the Holy Spirit. And we lay hands on those who are sick, all with the belief that the Holy Spirit is working through us with healing grace. Yet, somehow, I keep feeling that our limited controlled settings and experiences are not fully reflective of this truly amazing phenomenon.
Perhaps it might be compared to looking at pictures of the beach and of the ocean, or even seeing it from the tops of hills and mountains, but not fully diving in, or sailing forth on the great power of her swells.
In the Gospel of John at the time of the resurrection, Jesus offered two things to those who first received the Holy Spirit. First, he said “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you”. And then secondly, “If you forgive the sins of any they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” Receiving the peace, knowing that we are being sent, and then being aware of the deep importance of forgiveness are probably key elements into understanding or opening our lives more fully to the power of the Holy Spirit.
When God chose to come into the world in human form, in order to fulfill the fullness of unity and love with us, it was well beyond our language of religious experience. We rejected him because it was not in keeping with our religious understanding and framework. This was followed by the Spirit of God being infused into our very being, or perhaps ourselves being brought into the veins of God by the Holy Spirit alive in our lives. Our language and religion can help us to face that which is well beyond our comprehension, yet it also limits us because we need to control or “keep a lid on things”. If God has repeatedly defied the limits of our religious understandings in order to engage us more fully in a loving relationship, it is highly likely that God will continue with such disruption.
On Pentecost we wear red, we celebrate the birthday of the church, we read scripture in other languages and we sing about the power of the Holy Spirit. In light of this vast potential of experience, let us also prepare to know the peace of God, that is no peace, but strife sown in the sod, as a great hymn proclaims. And consciously open ourselves to forgive, even ourselves. Just as in the recovery from addiction, one needs to understand the peace that comes from no longer trying to control that which is uncontrollable, and to enter into a life of being forgiven and forgiving; a recovery that opens the door for a life nearly lost. The power that moves and enlightens all things does so daily, upon each and every ordinary object and element. The magnitude of the simplest of our moments is so rarely and fully known, and the possibility of new understandings and wonder never cease.