There’s a sweet, sweet, spirit in this place. A Bible verse (Matthew 18:20) says that where two or three people gather in the name of Jesus, his spirit is with them. A gospel song celebrates how that feels, when the spirit of Jesus is with us: “There’s a Sweet, Sweet, Spirit in This Place,” sings a choir in north London.
Over a lifetime of pastoring I have been blessed to experience that feeling in several congregations when people rejoice remembering the peaceful and loving walk of Jesus.
There are also times when people gather in the name of Jesus to decry injustice and protect citizens who are vulnerable and downtrodden. Weekly my wife and I go into Wilmington neighborhoods where there has been a severe injury or death by gun violence. We gather with the Wilmington Peacekeepers, praying to comfort the bereaved and to demonstrate support for citizens who feel they have been forgotten. Perhaps it would be overly sentimental to say that there is a sweet, sweet spirit in these corner prayer circles. Certainly we do care deeply for each other and for the neighbors we have come to comfort. But our feelings are more complicated than sweetness. As the prophets experienced, indignation and righteous anger are sometimes co-mingled with sweetness. Jesus drove money changers out of the temple court with a whip. I don’t think he was feeling very sweet right then.
There is such a thing as tough love, and we may not feel so good exercising it. May the spirit that so filled Jesus be in us, that we can be resolute without being cynical and recriminating. It’s a lovely blessing to feel a sweet spirit in company with others. But love is about much more than this feeling.
Member of ministry team, Presbyterian Church of the Covenant