When watching sports, Im always most impressed by the decathletes. Those who are able to compete skillfully in such a range of athletic events are awe-inspiring. Not only can they perform a variety of skills well, but they also are able to switch easily from one to another. The readings this month challenge us to be spiritual decathletes.
Throughout the first three weeks we are called to reflect on our journey of faith, to enter imaginatively into the accounts of Christ ascending into the heavenly realms as well as the Holy Spirit descending like flames of fire. The final week we are called to reflect on one of the hardest doctrinal problems of Christian theology - the Trinity - before grappling with the essence of Jesus teaching in the Sermon on the Mount.
Throughout these weeks we are called to use our souls, emotions, and minds with equal skill, switching from one to another in successive weeks as we encounter the challenge of the texts before us. Unlike real decathletes, however, we have help. This month we celebrate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the one who journeys alongside each of us who follow Christ to inspire, comfort, and - when words fail us - to pray for us "with sighs too deep for words" (Romans 8:26). The challenge may be great, but so is the help.
Paula Gooder is a lecturer at the Queens Foundation, Birmingham, England, and a freelance biblical lecturer and writer.
An Ever-Present Companion
Acts 17:22-31; Psalm 66:8-20; 1 Peter 3:13-22; John 14:15-21