Is Gabriel in the building?

It is a real privilege to be used by God as a means by which the Holy Spirit can work in people’s lives.Wintershall Nativity 2003

This morning’s sermon was the second occasion on which I sensed throughout the planning and writing of the sermon this could happen (together with a great team of service and worship leaders). And, despite the attendant set backs and red-herrings, as always God didn’t let me down or go by half measures.

I sense from conversation afterwards that some people were challenged, and certainly the prayer ministry that followed the sermon (and again after the service) seemed to provide comfort to some.

My prayer is that it also overcame some of the fears of those who perhaps hadn’t personally experienced the work of the Holy Spirit much, and encouraged St. Peter’s Yateley to ask receive the Holy Spirit in a more corporate way at Pentecost.

Something I found interesting was the way 3 different MEN in the congregation all commented (one whilst leading the intercessions) on the image presented by my asking if Gabriel was in St. Peter’s. I wonder what it is that made one small sentence really resonate with blokes?

Anyway, here’s the text if you’re interested: Sermon Luke 1v26-38 Annunciation (web) “Nothing is impossible with God.”

Things is about a sermon like this:
a) Physically and emotionally they can be quite demanding – I was shattered afterwards
b) I don’t think that realistically you could achieve something that made that much impact every week – and yet, listen to me… I’m trying to limit God already… I should be saying “So be it God… use me!”
c) I’m sure part of the ‘success’ (don’t like using that word, but not sure what else to use) is spending time trying to make connections in conversations and praying/listening to God… which involves time many ministers don’t have
d) Another part of the ‘success’ element is having a fab team to work with who are willing and wanting to let God speak through them too… so my thanks to Janet, Andrew and all the team.

The Holy Spirit and the Power of the Most High

I’m currently working on the famous Annunciation passage: Luke 1:26-38 and something is bothering me…
In v35 the text says (TNIV)
“The angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you..”

Now are there one or two things at work here?
I have one commentary that says the two phrases “Holy Spirit” and “power of the Most High” are synonyms i.e. the same thing. On first reading this seems OK, but why are the two things identified seperately?
My ‘Luke for Everyone’ by Tom Wright suggests they are two separate things, the Holy Spirit acting internally within Mary, and the power of the Most High (God) acting externally as a creator, surrounding Mary with his sovereign power…which would lead me to lovely Trinitarian thoughts given that we’re at the point of Jesus entering the world! But for some this may deny that the Holy Spirit can not act externally and physically?

What does anyone else think?

What does our experience tell us?

Should we say both/and or otherwise fall into the trap of limiting God?