Pastoral Musings from Rain City

it's about 'what is church?' it's about whether 'emergent' is the latest Christian trend or something more substantial. it's musing on what it means to live the city, in America, in community, intergenerationally, at this time in history...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Holy Spirit - moving from head to heart

The church I pastor in Seattle is filled with college graduates, PHD's, college and post-graduate students, and various experts of medical, literary, artistic, and technological ilk. I love these people, love this church, and think that it is truly in the stream of God's activity because the hearts of people are so open to stepping into our broken world to serve, and so willing to consider to love God with their minds as well as their feet.

Perhaps our weakness though, at least some of the time (and of course, I'm generalizing, probably talking more about my own weakness than my community) is our tendency to miss the heart piece. But the Apostle's Creed won't allow my to bypass the heart because the creed is articulated in a trinitarian way: Father, Son, Holy Spirit. This final week of teaching, we'll be consider the far ranging implications of the Holy Spirit's work in our lives.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church
the communion of saints
the forgiveness of sins
the resurrection of the body
and life everlasting. Amen

All of these elements stem from our life "in the Spirit" and the reality is that the New Testament has a great deal to say about what it means to "walk in the Spirit" and "be filled with Spirit". Here are some questions to guide your thinking as consider the far ranging implications of the Holy Spirit when we gather this coming Sunday:

1. It seems that all churches struggle with finding the proper place for the Holy Spirit in their life together. The Spirit is sometimes granted supremacy, as if Jesus were an afterthought, and is other times treated like the little brother of the trinity who has two, much older siblings. Why do we struggle to find this right place?

2. What has your experience with the Holy Spirit been? Can you identify ways in which the Spirit has been clearly helpful in your life?

3. You'll learn on Sunday that I believe all Christian HAVE the Spirit, but not all Christians are FILLED with the Spirit. Have you ever sought to be filled with the Holy Spirit? What did that look like?

I'll close by pointing you to this web-site, which tells the story of DL Moody, a man for whom I have the deepest respect and who shares his testimony of being filled with Holy Spirit. Don't be put off by the retro looking website or the language - some of the best stuff is hidden in the plainest packages! Moody basically said that he'd served God for years without being filled with the Holy Spirit, but that when he was finally filled with the Holy Spirit, it made all the difference. Yes - that's the deal for me too. I've not always remained filled with the Holy Spirit, because, as I'll share next week, I'm a firm believer that if I'm holding on to some sins, or refusing to go into places God wants to take my heart, the Holy Spirit is sort of bound up, unable to express life through me. But when that Spirit is free... indeed it does make all the difference. Moody said that he wouldn't trade this being filled with the Spirit for all the money in the world. Neither would I.

If this isn't something you're confident you've known in your life, I'm hoping to have some material available this Sunday to help you pray through this matter. We'll be talking about other things too, as we ponder what it means to live, with all who have gone before us down through centuries, as a people committed not only to declaring, but to living, the Apostle's Creed.



At 21/11/08 10:16, Blogger BenMc said...

I think of the letter to the church in Antioch listed in Acts 15 where the Jerusalem church lists their reasoning for who can be admitted into the family: they say "it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and us to say ...". This was the result of a long knock-down debate that was decided on the merits of experience (God was working in THESE people) and Scripture (James quotes the OT prophets). I think the Spirit-inspired Scriptures, along with experience, are how the HS moves and works in us. What seems good to the HS today? Half the answer is found in the text ... I think the HS is a lot more "bookish" than we give the HS credit for! (Of course, I say that as a "bookish" person, so take it with a grain of salt)

At 21/11/08 11:41, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a Native brother,today i have listen to the Spirit call me by name and i know that he wants good things to come by the spirit. So if i listen closely to hear him speak through the creation and feel that is close by then i am doing what God wants out me. The Spirit has shown me that Life,Soberity and loving Jesus has taught me to listen,hear and feel his words. i love the words of the spirit !


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