I love superheroes. I love reading graphic novels (comic books), watching the films and wondering which power I would like to have. Having a 7-month old child means early mornings but a surprise benefit of these early starts is that together Stanley and I have been working our way through the classic (in my opinion) Michael Keaton Batman films. Batman is one of my favourites. But whether the hero is bitten by a radio-active spider (Spider-Man), crashing to Earth from the planet Krypton (Superman) or even caught in Gamma rays and can’t control their temper (The Incredible Hulk) I love them all.
So, if you could have a super-power, what would it be? Speed, so you could complete lots of work in a short period of time? Invisibility, so you can have some undisturbed alone time? Flight, so you can really save on those flights during the summer holidays? Super strength, so you may be able to beat Mick from St Gabriel’s at boxing?
Personally, I find all of these worthy of countless hours of daydreaming.
However, two problems tend to arise. Firstly, I always seem to focus on how they would benefit ME.
Secondly, I’m pretty sure they are never going to happen and only appear in daydreams.
The Church celebrates Pentecost on Sunday 31st May this year. This is when we remember the gift of the Holy Spirit coming on to the disciples “like tongues of fire” (Acts 2:3). I find this image very dramatic.
Once in a school assembly, I heard someone say “The Holy Spirit came as fire onto all their heads!” Quite rightly, this received gasps of horror from the children. In some Christian icons, the Holy Spirit is depicted like a candle flame above the disciples’ heads. This holy anointing is so powerful, it calls to my mind the verse that speaks about “Children of Light” (1 Thessalonians 5:5). … Now comes the challenge, because this applies to us too, now. …. To carry this light into our homes, work and communities. But what does this look like?
We are told about the fruit of the Spirit. This is what we are to bear out with the Spirit within us. Galatians 5:22-23 tells us “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
It is important to note that it says “fruit” not ‘fruits”. This is a real game changer. It means that unlike choosing whether you would rather fly OR have super strength, we get both. We don’t have to choose between having more patience or faith. We can pray for all the fruit of Spirit. I don’t know about you, but I definitely need at least a few of them daily!
God in his love for us sent us the Holy Spirit so that, just like planting a seed, we can bear this fruit. However, like tending a plant, we need to tend to ourselves. When I was in Uganda, I led a session on the Holy Spirit. I openly shared how personally I have experienced great senses of being loved and a deep sense of peace. We used the metaphor of a sponge saturated in water. Then over time the sponge dries out. There is no need to panic, just put the sponge into some water again. Over time, we may feel like we have dried out of patience, kindness or self-control. But Jesus says he is the “Living Water” (John 4:10) and we just have to ask to be filled again.
So I encourage you to nurture the Holy Spirit within you. Bear the fruit and pray to be refreshed whenever you need. In doing so, we can all bless and reflect the love of God onto all those with who we come into contact.