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Live In The Power Of Pentecost

Disciples are called to perceive the presence of the Spirit everywhere, says Chris Thomas, as he shares the story of his own Pentecost.

Liverpool in the 1960s was a place of great poverty and struggle, and my early life could be summed up in those two words. We were poor, because my dad was alcoholic and we struggled to hold things together as a family despite my mum’s best efforts.  By the time I was fifteen I was sullen and angry. I had built barriers within to protect myself and my relationship with dad was extremely damaged. 

Then I encountered God. I was 15.  My mum took me to a day of renewal. This was the mid-seventies, when renewal was sweeping around the world. We arrived at a church hall in Warrington where people were clapping and dancing and singing.

Honestly, I just wanted to get out. Then a priest called Jim Brandt got up and talked about Jesus, and I can only say I heard him deeply within myself. He talked of Jesus' love, and the power of God. and I knew that I wanted to know Jesus the way he did.

God Showed Up 

God showed up! Suddenly I was filled with pins and needles, and I began to weep. It was an experience that lasted about ten minutes. Unintelligible sounds came out of my mouth. When all of this finally dissipated, I was left with one truth: that I was loved by God. In fact, it was more than this-God was in love with me.

That experience of knowing the unconditional love of God forever changed my life and its trajectory. I became a priest and have been led down the years, by the Spirit, to speak all over the UK and in mainland Europe, to lead a project in spirituality and to reach out to the poor and the broken.  

What might this Spirit do within us? There is a Greek word ‘horan’ that means to 'see'-but more than that, to 'perceive'. Disciples are invited to 'perceive' his presence everywhere. That's what Pentecost is all about.

The gift of the Spirit is about deep inner change

Are we able to look at the devastation in the world and say 'all will be well'? Are we able to look at our broken lives and see God at work? Are we able to look at a brother or sister, and see beyond the poor behaviour or rudeness, and see the presence of God? Are we able to look at the paedophile or the murderer, and sense the presence of God? Can we look at the asylum seeker, and the refugee, and know that God is there? Dare we open our eyes and perceive the presence of God in everything?

To see beyond means our hearts have to become compassionate. To see beyond means we have to give up our judgemental attitudes and our condemnation of our brothers and sisters. So the gift of the spirit becomes all about deep inner change.

I doubt that, without the spirit of God breaking into my life, I would be who I am today. All I can say is 'thank you' to God for the journey and for the gift of the spirit within me that, I hope, helps me to see.

1 Comment

That's a beautiful and powerful testimony of the transforming love of the Holy Spirit. Chris. Thankyou for sharing

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