From about mid-March, beginning with the NCAA basketball tournaments, continuing through the playoffs for some professional, college and high school sports, and reaching a climax with graduations from various academic levels, the word “spirit” is tossed around rather freely. We hear that this team or that played with great spirit or with a spirit of teamwork. Graduation speakers will mention the special spirit of this particular graduating class, the distinctive sense of who they are that marked their years together and that they will take into the unknown future.
The spirit referred to in both types of situations is one created by the individuals who make up the team or the class and is influenced by the manager, coach, faculty, or university president. It is also unique and so cannot be duplicated elsewhere or by another group.
Today as a Church we also speak of spirit, not a characteristic but a person; not created by human beings but the creator of them. This Spirit while definitely unique is present throughout time and can be present to every individual who seeks the Spirit. This Spirit is not a possession for a while but a lasting gift who also brings gifts.
Those gifts bring life and hope, strength and insight, creating a community where none existed before, binding people together by filling them with grace, God’s life. All of us who have been confirmed were promised these gifts. We know them as Wisdom, Understanding, Knowledge, Right Judgment, Courage, Reverence, and Wonder and Awe in God’s Presence (a.k.a., Fear of the Lord). I prefer “wonder and awe” instead of “fear”.
But, what does each mean to us? How can each affect our lives?
- WISDOM: the ability to see things as they truly are in an open-minded manner;
- UNDERSTANDING: to have a heart that accepts, cares, listens, and is compassionate;
- KNOWLEDGE: the ability to comprehend the truths of the universe, to know ourselves and the world around us; and to know that we are not capable of knowing everything, that are some mysteries in the universe and about God.
- RIGHT JUDGMENT: the ability to make good and wise decisions that go beyond self-interest;
- COURAGE: the strength to do what is right in spite of challenges;
- REVERENCE: a deep respect for God, for others, for self, for all creation and the ability to “see” or experience God all around us;
- WONDER & AWE IN GOD’S PRESENCE: a sense of the greatness and majesty of God coupled with a firm realization of God’s nearness to and love for us; a recognition that God is God and I am not.
Which of those gifts do you need the most right now? May the Spirit come to you today with that gift.