On this Sunday where we celebrate the arrival of the Holy Spirit, I long for an encounter like these early followers of Christ.
Most times, I feel the Holy Spirit like John Wesley did. After years of longing for more assurance, Wesley attended a meeting on Aldersgate Street in London where Martin Luther’s “Preface to the Romans” was read. Lo and behold, Wesley begins to feel something. In his journal, he writes:
I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.
The manifestation of this, as Wesley describes it, was a “heart strangely warmed” – and I’ve felt the Holy Spirit in that way, too. It’s a pretty good feeling. It can come during worship or at a special retreat. Sometimes it happens while I’m reading the Bible or praying. Occasionally it’s out of nowhere, just driving down the road and suddenly… a heart strangely warmed.
As great as it is, though, sometimes I long for something more. When I’m praying for direction I’d appreciate a clear, dramatic sign like a violent wind. When I’m trying to share my faith with a friend, I could use the flair of something like tongues of fire. In my head, I know that frequent divinely-initiated theatrics would eliminate the need for faith. But in my heart, I get frustrated trying to hear a still, quiet voice. I want something I can see and touch, smell and hear.
Something like bread broken and juice poured.
When Christ gave us the gift of communion, He gave us a tangible means of experiencing the Holy Spirit. As we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit today, I pray that you will feel your heart strangely warmed; and when you long for more, that you will be satisfied in the bread and cup.
The United Methodist “Cross and Flame” logo is a representation of the heart-warming Holy Spirit that John Wesley longed for all Christians to experience.