The Fellowship of the Holy Spirit.
By: The Reverend Canon Brian Burrows for St. John the Evangelist, Smiths Falls.
Text: “The grace of our Lord Jesus and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be
with you all.” 2 Cor. 13:13.
These were the last words spoken by one of the Generals implicated in the plot to kill Hitler.
They are well known to us as we conclude services and meetings with the same words. What,
though, does 'the fellowship or the communion of the Holy Spirit really mean?
As a new Christian I first experienced fellowship amongst a group of Sunday School teachers in
the church where I grew up. Also whilst doing my National Service in the Life Guards, there
was tremendous support and encouragement from the men who served with me in Germany and
Egypt. Again at Theological College, students of similar persuasion made training for the
ministry a wonderful and inspiring experience.
Three things I noted about fellowship: members have to be comfortable with one another; they
must share the same task, be it teaching, soldiering or learning; most importantly of all, members
have to share the same goal, i.e. to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ.
2. Fellowship with the Holy!
I know that many people in the Church find it hard to have fellowship with anyone, clergy or
church members alike. Yet, if we take Paul's words seriously, we are called to embrace the Holy.
Are we indeed comfortable with the holiness of God, of Jesus, or of the Spirit? Holiness implies
cleanliness, being washed and set apart. As God is holy, so His people are called to be holy. Are
we prepared to live together with others dedicated to holy living? Do we see ourselves and the
Church – both our Anglican Communion and the worldwide Church – committed to living a holy
life totally acceptable to God? Take a moment now to think of your Baptism and Confirmation
and the promises made by you and for you. Do you see the connection?
3. The Spirit!
The early Church, like us, wrestled with an understanding of the Holy Spirit. There is God, Jesus
and the presence of the Holy Spirit. Here are a few references from Scripture and the Creeds.
The Spirit is called the breath of God, hence the words of a well-known hymn, “Breathe on me
breath of God, fill me with life anew, that I may love what Thou dost love, and do what Thou
wouldst do.” The Creed tells us that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit. Luke 3:16b says,
“He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” Acts 2:4 says, “All of them were filled
with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit gave them ability.” How
then is fellowship possible with such a powerful person?
I believe it is possible to be comfortable with the Holy Spirit if we make ourselves open to Him.
If the Spirit is the breath and the presence of God, we should not be afraid. The word love comes
to mind as I try to visualize and feel the Spirit’s presence. Some may indeed speak in tongues,
others like myself, felt inspired by the Holy Spirit to learn a new language, Inuktitut. Surely the
goal is to reach out to others, to share the Good News of Christ Jesus our Lord and to make
everyone comfortable with the Lord and with each other.