At the end of the Engage Conference here Aug. 11, the Rev. Alice Ridgill encouraged participants to use what they learned during the week.
Preaching on Luke 24:49, Ridgill spoke of Jesus’ commandment to the disciples to stay in Jerusalem after his resurrection until they’d received the power of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus was the new kid on the block, said Ridgill, organizing pastor for The New Faith Church in Greenwood, S.C. Jesus no had presence on Facebook or Twitter, no praise team, no PowerPoint presentations and no seminary education.
“And yet his passion for the lost and the evangelistic anointing on his life was so powerful that four grown men left their jobs to join him,” she said.
For three years, Jesus was their teacher, Lord and friend. So when he was crucified, they suffered as anyone who has lost a friend does. But Jesus didn’t leave them hanging — he sent the promise of his Father that, after receiving the power of the Holy Spirit, they could be witnesses.
“Not only was Jesus speaking to them, he was speaking to us,” Ridgill said. “We are 21st-century witnesses who are called to share the word of Christ with the lonely, the lost and the left out.”
The disciples didn’t know how long they’d have to wait for the Holy Spirit. The church that was started on the day of Pentecost was held in an upper room. The disciples didn’t have a sanctuary or a choir, but they had the power of the Holy Spirit.
“They needed power, and power is what they got,” Ridgill said.
She compared the Holy Spirit to a standby generator, which is always present but is in standby mode until needed. The Holy Spirit was in “standby mode” for a long time — through creation, the parting of the Red Sea, the battle of David and Goliath and during Jesus’ ministry, crucifixion and ascension.
But on Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was no longer on standby.
“The time had come for him to start producing power,” Ridgill said.
After receiving power from the Holy Spirit, Peter began to preach the word of God. He had never done so before — he was once hot tempered, but began to preach so well that thousands believed and were baptized.
“It wasn’t Peter — it was power,” Ridgill said.
And we have that power too.
“Remember the Holy Spirit is at work within you,” she said. “It takes passion. It takes pursuit. Most of all, it takes prayer.”
We are Christ’s body in the world. And it’s hard work, but we don’t have to go it alone. That same spirit that visited the disciples in the upper room is here now.
“God wouldn’t dare bring you to this conference and not remind you that he’s with you,” Ridgill said, adding that God tells us, “I’m giving you what you need to do what I’ve called you to do.”