Saturday, April 24, 2010

Holy Spirit Promises

The Lord will not cast away his people,for his great name’s sake.
I Samuel 12:22

The promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him. Acts 2:39

My china cabinet is filled with stories my male teenage children do not want to hear—like how the antique flat champagne glasses we use for dessert on special occasions were originally wedding presents belonging to their great grandparents, two German immigrants who met and fell in love in Chicago; or how, when she was a little girl, my mom would actually use the Shirley Temple milk pitcher and matching cobalt blue cereal bowl when she would join her father in the kitchen for “a little lunch before bedtime.” I’ve tried to pass along family lore in the snippets and vignettes the dishes bring to mind, but any such telling brings on glazed eyes and slumped shoulders.

When I was a child, I adored staring at the gold rimmed porcelain plates and the silver inlaid Venetian glass decanter with matching cordial glasses. Their origins fascinated me not only because of their beauty, but because they put me closer to understanding my lineage, my ancestry. My peeps!

Though referenced often enough in our household, these cultural indicators do not resonate with my kids. In fact, when my youngest son was in third grade, he came home from school one day and said, “My teacher asked me what my family’s heritage was, and I told her we didn’t have one.” It’s moments like these that I slap my hand to my own forehead in mortified disbelief. I wonder how it is that I have failed so completely at connecting my own child to his own history, his own legacy?

It’s bad enough that I have not stirred my children’s imagination when it comes to tales of their forebears. But what might even be worse is if I’ve failed to stir their longing for something magnificent not in the past, but in the present and future. Have I shared my faith in meaningful, memorable, powerful ways, and have I helped them to understand that the promise of the Holy Spirit’s power and presence is right there for them if only they take an interest, if only they claim it?

It was awfully generous of Peter to tell his Pentecost audience that the full blown energy of God’s Spirit would be available not only to them, but also to their children and even to people at a distance (in other words, you need not be present to win). What is implied in Peter’s speech, however, is that it would become a parental responsibility to convey to the next generation just how a wildly outrageous encounter with God’s Spirit is transformational.

Yes, the promise is for our children. Yes, God’s Spirit works in crazy, unexpected ways. But it is also our joyful obligation to help our kids make the connections that will light up their souls.

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