Our confirmands go on their retreat this weekend and I hope they learn something about the power of the Holy Spirit.
I experienced something a few years ago with respect to our Confirmation class of recent memory. The Holy Spirit is that which offers divine power to mere mortals such as ourselves. It is poured out on many. Yet, the Holy Spirit also pours out the power on all those gathered as one. Consequently, the power is not simply for two or three random individuals. The power of the spirit empowers the whole collection of believers. We all know the truth of the old saying, “Many hands lighten the load.” This might mean that it is much easier for six pall bearers to carry a casket than it is for two funeral directors. Together—as a community of faith we are much stronger—and more effective—when we work in concert. And this being in concert is under the direction of the Holy Spirit.
Picture a scenario in our church’s Great Hall after a meal. In truth this scenario occurred several years ago on a Saturday night at our confirmation banquet. The room needed clearing for Celebration worship the next morning. If two or three people broke down 25 tables and folded 150 chairs, this effort would take a lot of time. Yet, many people pitched in and helped clear the room. It took only a matter of minutes. Congregational power occurs when believers work together for a common good.
As a matter of fact this “shared work” is a principle behind stewardship of a local church. When many people, prompted to generosity by the Holy Spirit, give with generosity, then the church can accomplish substantive ministry. If a congregation relies on only a few “big givers,” then that church effectively compromises its mission outreach. It is no accident that God chose to pour out the Holy Spirit on many. The tongues of fire representing the spirit “rested on each of them.” Many received the Holy Spirit experience and they, as a result, became stewards of that spirit. Together they became strong.