Saturday 25th July 2020 Basis of Union 12
The United Reformed Church confesses the faith of the Church catholic in one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It acknowledges that the life of faith to which it is called is a gift of the Holy Spirit continually received in Word and Sacrament and in the common life of God’s people. It acknowledges the Word of God in the Old and New Testaments, discerned under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, as the supreme authority for the faith and conduct of all God’s people. (12)
This clause of the Basis contains three statements which emphasize three mantras of Reformed ecclesiology: the proclamation of the Triune God; the fellowship of Word and Sacrament; and the centrality of Scripture. It would do a great disservice to them – and to your devotional activity – to attempt to unpack them here. However, reflection can be made on the one aspect named in all three statements: The Holy Spirit.
Although the coming of the Spirit is associated with the feast of Pentecost, we recognise the work of the Spirit to be associated with more than a historic event. While the incarnation of God in Jesus of Nazareth was confined to a specific point in history, the Spirit’s action works through all time, where She is forever involved in history, from the beginning of creation through to the coming of God’s Kingdom. Orthodox theologian John Zizioulas reminds us that in this way ’to be involved in history is not the same as to become history’, and that while the historic Jesus remains to us a person who has long died, and the Bible a book written long ago, the Spirit makes Christ alive to us, and speaks through the Scriptures and the Sacraments, uniting us in Holy communion with one another – those before and those yet to come.
The Spirit frees us up not to think of a God that has been confined to the past – to the acts of a Jewish Carpenter in occupied territory, or glory days of revivals or enormous Sunday Schools – but rather to a God that shines new light and truth and is still speaking anew. It is the Spirit which continually innovates and inspires, illuminates and improves all that we know and experience of God. That Spirit breaks down barriers, breaks open the Word, and breaks into our lives bringing history to life as we seek the eternal journey with God.
Spirit of the ever-present God
whose presence turns history into our story,
break into our lives with new light and truth,
that we may appreciate all the ways you speak to us
and that we may experience your story anew. Amen