The Spirit Lives in You

Written By Douglass M. Bailey

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained. — John 20:19-23 NRSV

On the Feast of Pentecost, fifty days after Passover, the disciples, that first Christian parish, are gathered in one place, one space. The word for wind in Hebrew is the same word as the one for the Hebrew words breath and Spirit. The word is ruach. So the ruach, the wind, the mighty breath, the Spirit of God, began to move among the people in that early parish church, and then—then their souls caught on fire. It seemed as though there were tongues of fire that moved from the top of their head to their toes, and they had fire in their belly, fire in their soul. It was the fire of the Spirit of God—that same Spirit that they knew to be so alive and so vibrant in Jesus. It was now passing into them. And, it passes again into us. That's what we celebrate on Pentecost.

One cannot explain that. You have to dance it. You have to become Pentecost; it is the experience of the power and the movement of God's Holy Spirit. It has shaped the church, from those very earliest days down through all the centuries. Down through times of persecution; down through times of expansion; down through times of growth around that massive Mediterranean Sea area, into Europe and into Asia and the Far East. The Spirit moved across the seas and across this nation of ours.… And on goes the Spirit of God, filling us and moving us and giving us fire and purpose. …

Remember who you are … that's what the Gospel is trying to say to us today. Remember your roots. It's not referring to what family you were born into. You are a child of God. You are a place where the Spirit of God lives, so remember who you are. You are a vessel of God's Spirit. Remember who you are. Remember the Holy Spirit lives in you.

Excerpted from a sermon preached at Calvary Episcopal Church, Memphis, Tennessee, June 3, 2001, The Day of Pentecost. Copyright 2001 Calvary Episcopal Church.