John said, I baptise you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
I used to wonder what does it meant to be baptised in the Holy Spirit. Like many of my generation I had been baptised with water as a baby, confirmed by the Bishop as a teenager and knew that I wanted to follow Jesus in every way that I could. Yet in so many ways I struggled. I realise now that I was trying to live as a Christian in my own strength, rather than to seek the resources that God makes available.
When I was in my late teens a kind couple from our church took me and a few others to another local church which was both familiar and yet very different. The liturgy and the structure was similar to what I knew but the whole place was filled with life. People clearly loved the Lord and wanted to encounter more of Him as they worshipped. There was a joy and a lightness that I hadn’t known before. After a few weeks, the sermon was all about the work of the Holy Spirit and we were invited to go forward to be prayed for so that we too might experience the baptism (or filling) of the Holy Spirit. Nowadays, this is the sort of thing we do regularly at St Stephen’s but back then it was all new to me.
I was hungry to experience something of what so many others in that Church already knew that I went forward that night and, as I was prayed for, I felt God’s presence in a new and special way. I was still the same person but I knew that I had experienced what the apostle John had been talking about – Jesus had met me and filled my life with his presence.
Since that day all those years ago I have frequently prayed to be filled again and to receive all that God wants for me. It’s not always felt quite as special as that first time but I have never not known God’s touch in some way.
Tomorrow is Pentecost Sunday – the day we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit. If you have never before experienced the ‘baptism of the Holy Spirit’ or simply want to receive from God afresh just ask Him. He’s a generous God and his powerful presence in our lives brings His peace, hope and confidence. He longs to do a new thing for you as he has done for so many in the past. Join us in our worship at 11am tomorrow as we pray, Come Holy Spirit.
Before then as you pray today, why not listen to this song and invite the Holy Spirit to fill you afresh.
Prayer: Lord, fill us with your Spirit today. Do a new work in our lives, in your Church and in our community. Amen.
Prayer Request: For those who do not normally come to our church services but are attending online – that they would also have an experience of the Holy Spirit this weekend.