Noting that Jesus' instructions to his disciples after his resurrection were to stay together, pray together, and wait for the Holy Spirit, Bishop Hughes reflects on how this is also good advice for us now, as we become the church that God needs us to be at this time. (Time: 3:46.)
This is Bishop Hughes in the Diocese of Newark. I've been thinking quite a lot now that we are well into Eastertide, about how we got here. Not just how we got to this particular time in history, May of 2023, but also how we got here as people of faith. That Jesus faced the impossible going to the cross, dying, and then rising again, and then meeting up with his disciples, in small groups, individually, and always with this message, in some way of saying, "Stay together, pray together, and wait for the Holy Spirit to come." And when we read the book of Acts, that's what we find that they did. They did stay together, and they prayed together, and they waited for the Holy Spirit to come. And she came in that big way that we recognize this Pentecost now. She came as this mighty wind, that's what we hear in the Acts of the Apostles.
And I wonder about the time that we're living in now, in May of 2023. We have certainly faced a mighty wind. I'm not saying it's all the Holy Spirit! I don't think pandemic was the Holy Spirit. I don't think racial killings and the amount of gun violence that we've seen, and certainly the amount of just stubborn discord, where people refuse to speak with each other and refuse to compromise and collaborate with each other – I don't think that that is the Holy Spirit. But certainly, it has been the winds of discontent and disruption. And when all that wind is stirring, I wonder, in what way have we consistently stayed together, prayed together and waited for the Holy Spirit to come. Jesus calls the Holy Spirit "the advocate," the one who will help you, the one who will give you insight and wisdom so you know which way to go. And that is something for us to remember in these times.
One of the things people ask me all the time is, what is the new church supposed to look like? What is it that we're going to be? And I very often say, we're already evolving into that church. One of the things that we're doing as church far more frequently than we've done before, is we've been asking ourselves, "How do we do this going forward?" Rather than just doing what we have done in the past? We've been asking ourselves, "How do we do this going forward," and then we've been stopping to think about what that might look like, and trying on different things. This is what becoming the new church is. It is one where instead of just constantly returning to what went before, we stay together, we pray together, and we wait for the helper, for the Holy Spirit to come and to give us information.
I say all these things, not just because it's Eastertide, not just because we've only a few weeks ago celebrated Easter. I say this as a reminder to us that the change that is all around us is real. And that God will be with us so that we can change along with it into being the church that God needs us to be at this time. This takes courage. This takes willingness. This takes flexibility. It also takes our being together in prayer and waiting for that wisdom and that inspiration that comes from the Holy Spirit.