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Pentecost 2014

Last year I attended a coaching course, that is to say about how to coach, a coaching for coaches if you like, in this case to help people who are considering a priestly vocation. The overarching premise is that the answers people are seeking are to be found within themselves and I imagine that is what the top sporting coaches believe of their charges. I don’t know if Andy Murray will win any tournaments this summer but his Wimbledon victory was credited to Ivan Lendl and Andy both believing that he could do it. For me one of the memorable scenes in Chariots of Fire is one of the coach on his bicycle urging Eric Liddel onto a better performance, although it is difficult to see exactly how a bike, a stopwatch and a growly man could make all that difference. The recent success of the GB Cycling team has been attributed to the team coaches. The other essential ingredient is that the person being coached wants to be, they have to know that they cannot do it on their own and that the encouragement and gifts of another can stretch them to new power of achievement.

Jesus promised the disciples that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon them and that they would become his witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth. Remember these were simple fishermen from Galilee, no previous experience of leading a church, proclaiming truth, standing up to authorities or of preaching themselves to great crowds. Jesus called these ordinary persons into his service and even if there was the occasional slip we see in the Gospels that they wanted to follow him and do what he had commissioned them to do.

Now I am not suggesting that we reduce the idea of the Holy Spirit from advocate, counsellor, helper, encourager, giver of gifts and power to the level of a sporting coach and you would be rightfully cross with me if I did: What I want to get at is the idea of our interior being and our journey with God. We all, even if it is expressed in different ways, have a deep inner thirst to be close to God, to find the meaning of our lives here on earth and the answers we are seeking are something that grow inside us, they are not received fully formed from the outside although things we read, things people say perhaps even things in sermons prompt our thinking and our feeling.

One model of the Trinity reminds us that God, the father, chose to reveal himself through creation, to further do so through Jesus Christ the revealed one, and to continue to do so through the gift and power of the Holy Spirit. These three ideas of God the REVEALER, Jesus the REVEALED and the Holy Spirit REVEALING affirm the oneness of God while distinguishing the persons of the Trinity and reminding us that REVEALING through the Holy Spirit is an ongoing process. We cannot box up our understanding and ideas of who God is or what God’s purposes are – they are not to be found neatly defined but are growing and developing inside us all the time with the presence of the Holy Spirit. Which is why the words we have heard this morning, wind, fire, words of things seen, felt, and present but untouchable and ungraspable are so apposite.

I do not really understand how my golf coach years ago managed to get me to drive a ball in a straight line off the tee: there was much about hands, stance, grip, backswing, follow through, keeping your head still, your eyes down – on and on it went – but actually the answer was somewhere inside of me. There were moments (pretty rare in my golfing career) but there were moments when it all felt right. It is impossible to explain or describe but the golfers will understand my meaning.

And you understand about the Holy Spirit, how God in showing himself to you, just as he spoke to Abraham, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Peter, continues to work through our inner selves often in ways that we cannot articulate. Through the Holy Spirit present at the beginning, hovering over the waters God, is still showering us with the overpowering love that was the engine of all creation.


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