For a good few years, I have struggled with getting my head around why we occasionally sing in church “come holy spirit”. We also sing all sorts of related things like
Holy Spirit, You are welcome here
Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere
Your glory, God, is what our hearts long for
To be overcome by Your presence, Lord
Let us become more aware of Your presence
Let us experience the glory of Your goodness
I understand that due to sin, guilt, shame, other worries (etc etc!) we struggle to be aware of God’s presence and like the footsteps poem, it is when we are at our weakest and struggling the most that we consciously give permission for him to step in, but as it also says God is walking with us at all times! Immanuel means “God is with us“, if you take the time to look up the Hebrew names for God’s Triune attributes you will see that he is at work in our lives “24/7” as he is eternal!!
God the father, son and holy spirit were there at the beginning of creation, they were all there when Jesus was Baptised, the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost and filled the believers so that they could preach and share the good news of Jesus’ act of salvation! There is a church where all sorts of stuff happens and they call it “Glory clouds” and they seek “God’s Glory” all the time, I was in a church where they were hankering after those types of “manifestations” but I do not believe that they are true or really from God as they fail to cause those “experiencing” to then go out and profess the good news like the early disciples did. In fact they do not seem to even engage them in trying to respond to the poor and those in need!
I know that everyone has a different reaction to being “touched by the Holy Spirit”, I always seem to get weepy! I have yet to find anyone in the bible that appeared drunk and could barely string two words together after getting filled with the spirit, in fact it caused them to be able to speak languages they barely knew one word of!
The times in the bible where God’s “Glory” or “Presence” appeared, those who it appeared to were struck in awe and had feelings of unworthiness! It’s like walking through a muddy bog and then meeting a member of a royal family who is dressed in a white outfit, you are filthy in comparison! Yet Jesus stretched out his hand and offers us a way out of that mess we get ourselves into! I am no criminal, yet i have regrets about mistakes that I have made, we all have fallen short of God’s Glory, the philistines needed to return the ark of the covenant as their sin and guilt was too much, their soldiers kept dying everytime they touched the vessel where God’s glory was abiding.
When Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to counsel, equip, guide, teach and empower us, he did this after his death and resurrection so that God could once again look upon us. We are made in God’s image, our sin has tainted and damaged that image but through the filter of Jesus’ sacrifice, he can look upon us and once again see a part of himself.
We may be annoyed with our sin, weaknesses or faults, but when God looks upon us he sees his perfect creation and when two or more are gathered he is there with us as we are communing with others and the spirit at the same time. We don’t need to ask for his presence, we need to ask more that he opens the eyes of our heart, that he helps us to recognise who we are in him and what he has made us to be, vessels for his glory and love, not to be “put on a shelf” in a church, some gifts are for service in the church family time and others are for use within our communities, we just need to realise that it is there for us to use, as long as we remain in him and try our best with the Holy Spirit’s help to live as close to Jesus’ example as we can!