I have a lot of things on my desk to help me be a good Episcopalian; special calendars, an Episocal dictionary, the Book of Common Prayer. The truth is, while I was raised in the church, I wasn’t raised in the Episcopal Church, and sometimes that leaves me with a twinge of what psychologists call “imposter syndrome.” Loosely translated, this finds me calmly nodding while wearing my staff nametag, but thinking “what are y’all doing and saying right now?” Maybe you feel that in the church sometimes, too.
Maybe you’ll feel that when, today, I wish you a Happy Ascension Day! (Thanks official Episcopal Church Year Guide Calendar, and no, we don’t typically wish each other a “happy ascension day.”) Ascension Day, for those unfamiliar with the term, is exactly 40 days after the Resurrection of Jesus (aka Easter Sunday). Today we remember the day when Jesus, post-crucifixion and resurrection, ascends into Heaven. He leaves his disciples for the second, and final, time. But, lest the disciples fall into despair, Jesus promises that he will not leave them alone; he will send a helper and counselor, the Holy Spirit. The disciples wait together, praying, for another ten days, and the Holy Spirit comes upon them in gusts of wind and flame. (We celebrate this on Pentecost, next Sunday—that’s what all the red and the birds and the flame imagery is about.)
I love the Holy Spirit. I love how accessible, how personal the Holy Spirit is. The thought that the presence of God is in me, with me, everywhere, gives me great hope and confidence. I was challenged recently to consider this: What if we believed—really believed—that the Holy Spirit was everywhere? How would this change our lives? Maybe, we’ll find that much of what we are doing already is a holy practice where God is. Maybe, as we use these next ten days to pray for the Holy Spirit to be irresistible and unquenchable in our lives, we can own the fact that we are called to love God, to love our neighbor, and to build God’s kingdom both within the walls of Epiphany and everywhere we live our lives, and maybe—just maybe—we already are.