Paraklesis: a beautiful word (2 Corinthians 1)

The Daily Office reading for yesterday was the opening of Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians. A single word appears 9 times in verses 3-7: παρακλησις, which can be translated as encouragement, comfort, or consolation. You may recall that Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as the παράκλητος (cognates as Paraclete) his speech to the disciples in John 14:16. In that context, the word is translated as intercessor or advocate in addition to comforter. So I thought it would be interesting to spend some time meditating on the meaning of παρακλησις as I find myself in a place of needing it right now. Continue reading

The fear of the Lord & the comfort of the Spirit (Acts 9:31)

In the Daily Office scripture reading for Monday, a verse that caught my eye was Acts 9:31 — “Meanwhile the church throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and was built up. Living in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.” Of course, being a pastor in a declining mainline denomination, any reference to an “increase in numbers” is going to get my attention. But there’s also something beautiful and perfect about the balance between living in the fear of the Lord and the comfort of the Holy Spirit that doesn’t have anything to do with church growth. We are in the process of contemplating a spiritual formation program at our church. I wonder if the fear of the Lord and the comfort of the Holy Spirit can be described as the perfect intimacy with God that is the goal of spiritual formation. Continue reading