Following John Lewis’s death in 2020, commentators cited often his urging to get into “good trouble.” Good trouble put him in harm’s way often as he worked to end segregation and drive racial justice, and it guided him in making difficult decisions during his political service. As his life showed, the advancement of God’s love and justice sometimes requires getting into good trouble.
As adopted children of God, we are led by the Spirit, an instigator of good trouble in the advancement of the gospel. Without the Spirit’s urging, would we raise our hand at a meeting to question whether the church offers enough support for members living with dementia? Would we advocate for a shelter to be built in our church for persons experiencing homelessness? Would we put aside our trepidation to volunteer as the adult sponsor for the youth lock-in? Would we respond enthusiastically when asked to share our faith at a prison Christian fellowship meeting? Would we have the courage to sing hymns at the bedside of a friend as she dies?
We know, however, that there are a thousand reasons to resist the Spirit’s urging to good trouble. We might hurt someone’s feelings if we point out an injustice or suggest a way to improve our church’s care for others. Following the Spirit’s leadings may bring discomfort or compromise our safety, as it did for John Lewis. As for the youth lock-in, a host of reasons including the guaranteed loss of sleep may cause us to ignore the Spirit’s urging. Even if we are stuck in hesitation and fear, however, the Spirit is calling to us to remember the good trouble we have witnessed in Jesus, and to follow.
God, I hear you calling me to good trouble. Guide me with wisdom and courage as I seek to follow you. Amen.
In preparing for Pentecost, we focus again on the work of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2 recounts the famous story in which the disciples are miraculously able to speak in other languages in order to preach to the crowds in Jerusalem. The psalmist states that God creates and renews creation through the Spirit. According to Paul, if we are led by God’s Spirit, the Spirit confirms that we are children of God. In the Gospel of John, Jesus promises to send the Helper, the Holy Spirit, who will teach us how to love him and to keep his commandments. In some branches of Christianity, fear of excess causes hesitation about the Holy Spirit; however, we must never forget that the Spirit is central to God’s redeeming work.
Read Acts 2:1-21. The miracle of Pentecost is not only in the multitude of languages but also in the act of listening. How can you experience worship in many languages or offer deep listening this Pentecost?
Read Psalm 104:24-34, 35b. How do you witness God’s experience woven through all of creation?
Read Romans 8:14-17. The author reminds us that spirit also means breath. When have you felt led by the breath of God?
Read John 14:8-17, 25-27. How has fear kept you from trusting God?
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