Through Him the Holy Spirit was manifested, the spirit of truth the gift of Sonship, the pledge of our future inheritance, the first fruits of eternal blessings, the life-giving power, the source of sanctification through whom every rational and spiritual creature is made capable of worshiping You and giving You eternal glorification, for all things are subject to You.
When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare to You the things that are to come.
Many of us take worship for granted. Some of us don’t come often. Some of us don’t like worshipping. (That doesn’t necessarily pertain to people reading this message, but there are people in our respective communities who don’t like worshipping). Have you ever stopped to consider that it is a privilege to worship? I confess that I worship so often, because I am a priest and it is an integral part of my priestly ministry, that oftentimes I’m forgetting the privilege I have to worship. And again, confessionally, on bad days, I’ve even considered worship to be a job.
There is obviously a disconnect between the perfect God in Heaven, and the fallen human being on Earth. Yet worship is intended to unite God and man. When we worship, we are standing around the throne of God, the Holy Altar, surrounded by angels and saints. When we commune, the human being touches the Divine God, our Lord Jesus Christ. How can the imperfect human be connected in such an intimate way with the perfect God? The answer is grace, and the source of grace is the Holy Spirit. Grace is what fills the gap between God and us, between perfection and brokenness. It is what fills what is lacking and bridges the gulf.
The Holy Spirit effects all of our sacraments. The Holy Spirit consecrates bread and wine to become the Body and Blood of Christ. It is the Holy Spirit who blesses the water for baptism. The Holy Spirit is called down over oil in order to create Holy Chrism. When a person is Chrismated, they receive the Holy Spirit. At a wedding, the Holy Spirit is called upon to unite two single people into one family. At Holy Unction, oil is prayed over and the Holy Spirit descends onto that oil, which is used to anoint us unto the healing of soul and body. When a person comes to confession, even in a broken and sinful state, it is the grace of the Holy Spirit, through the unworthy hand of the priest, which looses and forgives the sins of the one who has confessed. And finally, at the sacrament of ordination, when a man is ordained to be a priest, deacon or bishop, it is the Holy Spirit that completes what is lacking in that man, so that he may take his place at the Holy Altar Table and to mediate for the man who will lead God’s people.
It is the Holy Spirit that even enables us to worship, to enter into the presence of God. As Jesus says in John 16:13, it is the Spirit who “will guide you into all the truth.” In this prayer from the Liturgy of St. Basil, we read that through Christ, “the Holy Spirit was manifested.” In other words, God sent the Son into the world. And even though the Spirit proceeds from the Father (and this is a critical difference between Orthodox and Roman Catholic Theology, the Orthodox confess in the Creed that the Spirit proceeds from the Father, while the Roman Catholics confess that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son), it is the Son who promised that the Spirit will come. The Spirit comes to sustain the church, to guide us to the truth of the work of the Son.
It is the Spirit who now guides us to our future inheritance. Jesus Christ secured that inheritance through His death and Resurrection. Jesus Christ opened for us the door to Paradise. It is the Holy Spirit, however, that is the guide on our road to Paradise. It is His grace that allows us to be loosed of sin and strengthened in the sacraments, which point us down the path that leads to everlasting life.
As the prayer continues, it is the Holy Spirit who is the source of sanctification, the source of our pursuit of holiness. It is the Holy Spirit that makes us capable of worshipping God.
It is easy to forget the work of the Holy Spirit. We remember God the Father as the Almighty, as the Creator. We remember the salvific work of Jesus Christ, and we speak of a personal relationship with Him. And sometimes we forget about the relationship we are to have with the Holy Spirit, that it is the Holy Spirit that leads us to Christ, that effects the sacraments, especially Holy Communion.
Our daily prayers, and the daily Orthros service in the Orthodox Church actually begins with a prayer to the Holy Spirit:
Heavenly King, Comforter, Spirit of Truth, present in all places and filling all things, treasury of good things and giver of life: come, take Your abode in us; cleanse us of every stain, and save our souls, O Good one. (Trans. by Fr. Seraphim Dedes)
This is a beautiful prayer to use before a meeting, any time you need to make an important decision, and is a great prayer to use to start the day. Because it calls down the Holy Spirit which empowered the disciples on Pentecost, and who still empowers us today with grace to complete our gaps and fill our empty spaces.
Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015. The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website!
Fr. Stavros has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany”: “https://amzn.to/2t1rXwh and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.” https://amzn.to/2WAcfG0
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