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That I Would See | © 2015 . All rights reserved.

That I would see

A few Sundays ago at church, I was asked to welcome folks and introduce the topic for the day, which was the Holy Spirit. As with many things that we discuss, this particular subject is full of mystery, which also means it can be ripe for misunderstanding, divisiveness, and general grumping around. These types of differences are only amplified when you have a church that is both interdenominational and racially diverse. So I wanted to do my best to get us all started off together, and I find what’s usually best is to tell a story. This post is partly the story I told that day, plus a little bit more.
What comes to your mind when I say Holy Spirit? What words or images? What were you taught, growing up? I was raised Lutheran, which is a liturgical denomination, so mostly what I remember about the Holy Spirit is that mentioned it in a creed every week. We said a little bit about what we believed about the Father, and a little about the Son, and then we said; I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian church the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins… You’ll notice there is no real explanation there; it’s a list of things we believe in. I also remember that at certain times of the year, we would hang beautiful banners sewn with images of flames and doves that represented the Holy Spirit. I’m sure I was taught more, but that’s what I came away with, I think. Beautiful banners, and a creed with his name. And then I went to school in Texas, where I found a church that was quite a bit farther out on the charismatic end of things. It was the first time I ever saw anyone raise their hands in worship. It was the first time I ever saw people dance during the singing – and I don’t mean just dancers on the stage, I mean whoever wanted to, out in the pews. We had a sign that said “No Dancing in the Balcony” because they were afraid it was going to fall down. It was the first time I ever saw people come down front to get prayed for, get “slain in the Spirit.” Every once in a while, someone would speak in tongues. Maybe someone else would interpret. Much of this was slightly terrifying for a girl who grew up in a church where you only stand and sit and speak when the pastor tells you to. But it was also this gift, of seeing a whole different side of what people mean when they talk about the Holy Spirit. I think what is true for me is true for you – we all have been taught (or not taught) things about the Holy Spirit. It’s this mysterious thing that most of us don’t know quite what to do with. Which brings me to a couple of verses from Acts, chapter 2. The first is verse 17: In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. It’s this beautiful picture, and the whole first part of the chapter is full of those kinds of images: dreams and visions, prophecies, wind, flame. And then you get to the last paragraph in the chapter – a description of what the early church was like at this same time: They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. I love that in this one chapter that is all about the Holy Spirit, you get these descriptions of things that we would call supernatural – but also the picture of these very mundane, everyday activities of the early church – and both of them, the supernatural and the everyday, are filled with things we can’t explain. People having everything in common, and selling their possessions to give to those who need it? That’s as astounding as any vision or prophecy, if you ask me. I think it says something. I think it means that the Holy Spirit is equally as present in the stitching and casseroles and potlucks that the little church I grew up in was so good at – and in the exuberant singing and prayer and worship of the church I went to later. I think it means that if I am looking, I will see wonders, I will be filled with awe. If I am listening, noticing, ready to act – who knows what might happen? And while there is much I still don’t understand about the Spirit, I do know this: that I want my life to bear witness, that it would be clear what I was devoted to. That I would be known as a dreamer, a speaker of truth, someone who ate and drank with a glad and sincere heart. Someone who praised God, who was outrageously generous, who was willing to have everything in common with other believers. That last sentence might have been the hardest one to type, mostly because I frantically want to make disclaimers about who actually qualifies as another believer (yes, I know. I’m the definition of missing the point). Certainly all of the sentences are easier to type than to actually live. Which I suppose brings me right back around to the Spirit, and my daily prayer for this season, which is that I would see him work. Because I really want to. What about you?  
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  • Sunday Fun Day - this glass ornament is a piece of our current visual at my church, Fellowship North | © 2015 . All rights reserved.

    Sunday Fun Day

    Bryan texted me at church yesterday to let me know everything was okay, I texted back: I wish I could have seen the guy’s face when he opened the door. Bryan texted me back, just 3 words. Smoke weed everyday. Sunday mornings at my house are a little nuts, mostly because they are the one morning a week I have to be up and out early, while simultaneously not being in gym clothes. Hair, makeup, cute outfit, all by 8:00 am. I know. Life is hard. This Sunday was actually humming along pretty well. I and the two teenagers in my house who also needed to be at church early had somehow managed to all be ready and walking out the door on time. This is notable in my home. Like gold-star certificate level notable. So when my daughter asked if she could drive to church, I said sure! Go start the car, I’ve got to grab my charger. A tiny vision ran through my head, me watching us in the third person, noticing how nice we looked, how well we were all getting along, walking out the door together to go to church. I don’t know why I haven’t learned by now. Elizabeth goes to the garage, puts the door up, puts all of her stuff in the car and starts it. Then jumps back out, shutting the car door behind her. And, somehow, locking it. I didn’t even think my car would let you do that. Apparently I was wrong. So now, we are all locked out, with the car running, and all of her things are inside. I don’t know if you have teenage girls, but things are important, y’all. She felt awful about it, alternately because of the locking of the car and for the losing of the things. I was circling the car, pulling every available handle, shaking my head and saying wait…how…? Will ran upstairs to get help from Bryan, who suggested calling OnStar. I felt he was glaring at me when he said it, so I replied I didn’t do this, okay, so you can just quit being grumpy at ME. That’s called throwing your child under the bus to save face, friends. If you need any more parenting help I’ll be here all day. I called OnStar and the very nice lady on the other end told me that no, they can’t just do a one-time unlock if you don’t have the service. And no, you also cannot start the service right now when your keys are locked in your car. Which is the entire point of having a subscription-based service I guess but OKAY WHATEVER FINE. All of this action was backed by a fairly spectacular soundtrack, as Bryan and I had gone out for a quick dinner the night before, and come home with one of our favorite mixes playing. Loudly. Like full volume, singing at the top of our lungs, bumping it right into the garage, LOUD. It was, of course, now playing in our garage. Good morning, neighbors! Happy Sunday! Bryan handed me his keys and told me he would call a locksmith, which he did, and who came quickly and unlocked the car, loudly backed by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. I’m not endorsing anything here, friends, except maybe getting some extra keys made this week. Be sure to play some music you love while you do it.
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