El Greco, St. John the Baptist, ca. 1600
In my personal prayer/meditation time I just started reading the Gospel of Luke, which means I'm beginning to be immersed in the Christmas story with all of its glorious build-up. Perfect timing!
More than any other, Luke's Gospel highlights the importance of the power of the Holy Spirit for doing the work of God, which is fitting coming from the author of Acts. It starts right at the beginning of the book with Gabriel's announcement to Zechariah about the birth of his son, John the Baptizer:
[H]e will be great in the sight of the Lord . . . and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth. He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go as a forerunner before the Lord in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to their children [Mal. 4:6] and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared for him (Luke 1:15-17).As I read these words, I began to yearn along with first-century Israel for someone just like this. On the one hand, we who live after Pentecost are so richly blessed, because the Comforter/Helper/Advocate (Grk. paraklētos) has come—the Father has poured him out upon us in the name of the Son. But as we anticipate the Lord's second coming, don't you long for God to raise up people who are filled with the Holy Spirit who will turn many dazed and distracted people in the Church back to the Lord their God, who will bring healing to families and convict and teach the disobedient, so that when our Lord returns we are a spotless bride prepared for that great wedding? I do.
In all of our asking and hoping and wishing for gifts this Christmas, let's ask for the greatest gift of all, the Holy Spirit, to be poured onto the Church with fresh power! Let us pray that God blesses his people with a new generation of Spirit-filled John-the-Baptists to prepare us for coming of the Lord.
El Greco, Pentecost, ca. 1600