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Posts Tagged ‘holy spirit’

Ok, I’ve done it. I put it out there. I asked my church to spend a few minutes each day during the entire month of June praying for the work of the Holy Spirit, both in our church and in the church all over the world. One of the things I’ve been convinced of lately is that the church really has a unique answer for the world. (Though I don’t think we “do” church because of what we can get out of it, I do think the world is hungering to believe in something bigger than themselves. As much as we talk about being D-I-Y’ers, I think our greatest fear might be that we are all alone in the world.) I’m surprised at myself, but I’ve personally been praying for the Holy Spirit to move is crazy, miraculous ways for a long time. And suddenly, I think, as a result of all this praying, I’ve discovered a ministry passion for seeing a great, widespread, reawakening in the church universal. Dare I say it, but even a revival? (I’m pretty sure this word carries some scary baggage, especially in the south, but I think it’s the exact word I want. The root is similar in many languages, and it has the same basis as “life”. Thus if you are re-viving, you are bringing life again. I think that’s exactly the right word choice for what I hope happens in the church.)

As I’ve talked with several colleagues, I’ve realized what a dangerous thing it can be to pray…and not only that, but to pray for the work of the Holy Spirit. If prayer really makes any sort of difference, then something might actually start. Praying for the Holy Spirit– well, it might ask me to preach the dangerous texts. It might ask the church to change some long held traditions. And if the Holy Spirit really got loose– well it might just bring folks who aren’t like us into the church.

Even still, I pray for the Holy Spirit, not only in the church where I pastor, but all over the world. Wake us up, shake us up. Veni Sancte Spiritus– come, Holy Spirit!

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In seminary, I always told myself that once I was in a church, I’d use some of my continuing ed time to go to the Festival of Homiletics. Unless you’re a preacher sort, you probably have no idea what “homiletics” is, much less why there would be a festival for it. Basically, homiletics is preaching, and now that I’ve been to the long-awaited event, I would definitely call it a festival.
I spent a week with some 1500 other preachers– we worshipped together, laughed at our unique challenges, and listened to folks who were still so on fire for spreading the word of God that you could call them “experts”. I heard Desmond Tutu (who might be one of my new favorite people) preach about reconcilation. I met my preaching hero, Barbara Brown Taylor. And I even wept as my favorite preaching teacher, Anna Carter Florence, was broken open by her text at hand.
What I realized very early into the week was that I had, in a lot of ways, become dried out. As I worshipped with so many others, who were just as thirsty for an encounter with the living God as I was, even the familiar words of the Doxology and treasured hymns took on new life. It doesn’t make sense. I’m a preacher. I spend most of my day with God. But there was something about having the opportunity to simply worship that renewed my spirit. The other thing I realized was that not only was I dried out, but that my sermons were getting that way. I had dutifully been preaching through the lectionary, each week struggling to bring a relevant word to my congregation from the text, forgetting, I think, in some ways, that what I do each Sunday morning really does matter. I’ve been entrusted with the living word. The least I can do is preach like it!

I guess you could say I’m on fire. Not that I had exactly forgotten what I was doing, but my flame definitely wasn’t burning as brightly as it once had, so to speak.

And now here I am, looking into the face of pentecost–which is great, because really, it’s my favorite of all church days. I love what the Holy Spirit does–bringing people together, giving folks gifts to use for the community, sending new life into hopeless places. I even love talking about the Holy Spirit, knowing that people call us Presbyterian sorts “the frozen chosen.”

I’ve definitely felt the movings of the Holy Spirit around Sherwood, but I wonder what it would take for us, both as a church and as individuals, to feel “on fire”? I think I’m going to make Pentecost a season, instead of a day. And I think I’m going to dare to ask people to pray diligently, even daily, for the Holy Spirit to reawaken us. Maybe I’ll even ask them to pray in this way for a whole month. Who knows what could happen if our whole church were praying that consistently?

I’m preaching on the Valley of the Dry Bones on Sunday. I wonder what it’s like to stare into our own boneyards, wondering where life has gone. I wonder what it’s like to stand in that place and wonder if there’s something more. And then to hear, while standing there, “You will live.”

Veni Sancte Spiritus– Come Holy Spirit!

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