Let there be Light

“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. – Matthew 5:14-16

Happy New Year!! Was this a fast year or what? Well, at least it has been for me. We are at the beginning of a new secular year. Many people mark the milestone by making New Year’s resolutions that, somehow, go by the wayside around the second week in January, if they last that long. I used to be one of those people, but as I’ve said before, I gave up making resolutions for Lent many years ago and never started with them again. As a discipline, they were useless to me. By the way, its still Christmas until the 6th of January, so if your cards aren’t out or your gifts delivered, you still have time.

This has been an interesting year. I guess I can say that. Most of them have been in recent years. I read a January Soul Food from about five years ago, and it is basically the same. Nature is still acting up. The weather doesn’t get any better. Wasn’t it a weird Fall? The number of wild storms and fires continue with greater ferocity. Violence in our nation is an everyday thing, and though it may not be so, it seems that it is at an all time high. It gets wearisome.

I can really be depressed or angry depending on where my emotions take me at the moment. Sometimes, the world feels very dark. We look for answers because we want to blame something or someone. We want to fix it, or we want someone to fix it and often we challenge God. We wonder where God is and why he lets evil continue. Then we remember the answer. Something about we are to cooperate with God in the fixing.

And we can’t forget that there is hope. God has entered this world to be with us. We just celebrated that event on Christmas and then, six days into the new year, we celebrate the feast of the Epiphany. The term epiphany means “to show” or “to make known” or even “to reveal”. In western churches, we remember the coming of the Magi to visit Jesus and bring him gifts who by so doing “reveal” Jesus to the world as Lord and King. For Christians, The Epiphany is the festival that celebrates the many ways through signs, miracles, and preaching that Jesus revealed Himself to the world as Christ, God Incarnate, and King of Kings. We will celebrate this season until Ash Wednesday.

In the Orthodox Church, this celebration is called the Feast of Lights and it is so for us as well. In the Book of Common Prayer – morning prayer – there are two scriptures for use on the Day of Epiphany: Isaiah 60:3, “Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising,” and Isaiah 49:6b, “I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” Jesus says of himself in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” In John 9:5, Jesus also says, “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” We need the light of Jesus in our world today.

Seven years ago, in December at an Advent retreat, Jesus told me to take my light out from under the bushel. I didn’t know that I had it under a bushel and I told him so. I only just planned to retire, but I began to think and pray about this. Shortly after, while taking a shower, Jesus told me that he had a dream for Trinity and it was that Trinity will become a light on the hill for all people. When I shared this story with a friend she said, “Did you know that this message was given to us by God in the 1980?” I hadn’t. But I believe it’s happening.

I wrote about this in the newsletter in January 2011, so I got that from the file to reread and to check on dates. That happened in the Epiphany season, also. I believe that we are trying to follow God’s dream for us. We are Christ Bearers – bearers of the Light. We want to be. It starts with each one of us in Jesus, spreads to the whole of Trinity and then into the dark world.

I started using Centering Prayer almost immediately after my conversation with God about my light under the bushel. It seemed to me that I was supposed to try praying this way. I haven’t necessarily tried to change myself in any particular way; I just spend time with Jesus, give him permission to do what he wants to do in me to make his light bright, and try to listen to his direction. This has changed me in ways where, often, I don’t even recognize myself. Not everyone finds this type of prayer helpful, but however you pray, spending time with Jesus each day is a must. All of our spiritual disciplines are important in making space for God, but prayer is the main way he transforms us into his light. It is in being openly silent while “paying attention” that change happens, and we are often not aware of it. Or, at least, I found it so.

Richard Rohr, OFM, says, “In more ways than one, we are waiting in darkness. The darkness will never totally go away, moral evil isn’t going to disappear, but the Gospel offers something much more subtle and helpful: “The light shines on the inside of darkness, and the darkness will not overcome it” – John 1:5. The only real questions become how to trust the light, receive the light, and spread the light.” OK, that is three questions. We will continue to work on this.

Have a great new year as you spread God’s light and love around in a dark world- That is a good New Year’s resolution by the way.

Peace and Good,
Donna

 

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Image of God

 

SOUL FOOD

December 2017

 

God is coming! God is coming! All the element we swim in, this existence, echoes ahead the advent.  God is coming! Can’t you feel it? ~ Walter Wangerin, Jr.

 

 

As I entered the date on the draft of this meditation, I realized that I had just entered December 2017.  WHAT!!!  How can this be? As I glanced through a year’s worth of some of the weekly meditations that I write, I realized how much has happened in all our lives, our country and our world this year and it has flown by somewhere close to the speed of light.  Or maybe it just seems that way to me since I’ve been sick almost half of this year.  But here we are at the beginning of the Church year which begins December 3, with the first Sunday of Advent.  Wow!          

 

In Advent, we are preparing to celebrate the birth of Jesus.  This is the most amazing, unique event that has ever taken place on this earth.  God came to us as an infant human being.  God wanted to dwell with us since before creation, and Chris Webb tells us in his book, FIRE OF THE WORD, He first had to create a space for us to live together and then He had to create us.  Although, shortly after creation, humans rearranged God’s plan, Chris and some other theologians believe that Jesus’ coming in this way was not Plan B.  I am convinced that God knew that the rearrangement of his plan would happen before he created anything, but He did it anyway because, as at the beginning with the creation of the first human beings, God yearned to live with us. And in the fullness of time, it came to be with the birth of Jesus and the coming of the Holy Spirit.

 

Who is this God—Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—who chose to come to dwell with us as a human being?  Why would God choose such a thing, knowing how we are?  Who is this God, who then chose to die for us and send his Spirit to remain with us so that we might know how to live with Him?  Who is this God, fully human, fully God, whose birth we are preparing to celebrate?

 

Years ago, when I was studying at seminary, my advisor assigned a paper for me on the Image of God.  She said that she could tell that the image I had was changing and knew that this assignment could help solidify where I was.  I pulled the paper out of storage to read what I thought 30 years ago.  There was some research from various sources in which theologians were trying to describe what this Imago Dei (Image of God) is and looks like.  Their debates were interesting but very complex, and I finished the paper by saying that my Image of God looks like Jesus as revealed through scripture, personal experience, and in the church—His body.

 

When I was a child, I thought that God was the great vengeful judge in the sky making tic marks in his black book when I did something bad.  He would hold the book over my head to keep me in line.  Jesus was a friend who loved me and would come to live in my heart if I asked him—whatever that meant.  Jesus would talk to God about what was in the little black book if I told Him I was sorry for what I had done wrong.  I knew that God created the world and all that was in it, but I was not aware that He was in anyway involved in it.  Although, sometimes, when I was outside lying in the grass, a great peace would fill me. Overall, my Image of God was negative.

 

When I was in my 20s, I had an experience of God that caused me to reevaluate my belief.  Our infant daughter, who was dying, was instantly healed through prayer.  I came to believe that there was a God who cared for me, personally.  Shortly after this, we left the Holiness tradition where we had grown up and became Episcopalians.  In THE BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER (no black book with tic marks), we found that God wasn’t holding Sin over our head, nor did we always have to start over.  Through the Confession of Sin, we were able to stay in a relationship with Him—loved and forgiven.

 

 The next change in my Image was when I became involved in what was called the Charismatic Renewal.  Suddenly, I knew that I could have a personal relationship with Jesus.  I could talk to him; he would talk to me, guide me, comfort me, heal me and use me.  And, I found that He was present in the church community of which we were a part.  My Image was still rather of a Santa Claus sort—I would present my requests and God would, sometimes, give me what I wanted.  I knew that there had to be more to all this, but it was very exciting to observe and be a part of what Jesus was doing in all our lives. 

 

  Over the next several years, my Image of God continued to grow and change, but it is still Jesus who is the Image of God for me.  Jesus, when asked by the disciples to show them the Father, says in John 14:9, “He who has seen me has seen the Father.”  I have found that having a personal relationship with Jesus and with His Body, the Church, still is where I see who God is most clearly as we relate with Him, with each other and with the world.

 

It would be a good spiritual exercise this Advent, as we go about preparing to celebrate the birth of Jesus, to think about our Image of God.  What is it that image? How do we see God?  What do we want Him to be?  What do we yearn for God to be for us?  What will we let him be for us? Do we really know that Jesus really loves us and there is nothing at all we can do that will change that?

 

\Have a Blessed Advent and a Joyful Christmas Season, Donna

 

Why Does God….

Every other year or so, I repost this article that I wrote six years ago. We keep asking the same questions so they get high on my list from time to time. It’s been a crazy uncertain year so I think I need a review. Maybe you can use one, too, so here goes.

“As I meditate in preparation for writing, the world turns much as before. We continue to have mass shootings, bombings, wars and rumors of wars, floods and famine, [earthquakes] violence and hatred. We have personal issues as well. Some major stories make the news, many do not, and our personal woes, usually not at all. But it does cause us to ask, “Why? Why does God let bad things happen? Why all this pain and heartbreak? Why doesn’t God intervene?” I have made peace with most of these questions but they still come around. I am not a heavy-duty theologian so I don’t take these answers as gospel, but they help me get through and live with the questions. Maybe they will help you, too.

“It has been said that everything happens for a reason. Usually, people mean that God, or the universe or fate, has caused or allowed this horrible and difficult situation. For some undisclosed reason, they say, it must have needed to happen, therefore, it must be part of God’s plan. This leads to Question 1: “Why does a loving God do these things? Answer: He doesn’t!! God does not create evil and suffering. Never. Not ever! Never!!

“Question 2: ‘Why, then, didn’t God create the world without suffering?’ Answer: He did!! Scripture tells us that God created Eden for us—a place in which there is no evil, suffering or pain, but a world filled with love and relationship with God and each other. This was, and still is, God’s Plan.

“Questions 3: ‘If God is not the author of these tragedies, WHY do we have them? Is it the devil?’ Answer: Not necessarily. Since God wanted a relationship of love with us, He did something unusual. He gave us Free Will in order to give us the ability to love. Love always involves a choice. Those of us who have been married a long time understand this. We understand that love isn’t just a warm fuzzy feeling or an overwhelming passion, though sometimes it is, nor does the fact that we say, “I love you,” make it so. We know that love is the day by day hanging in and hanging out with each other in the good times and the bad, talking and sharing together, working together, taking care of each other, and by helping to make each other’s dreams come true. God wants that relationship with us. Love is an action and requires our choice.

“Question 4: ‘But God allows it, doesn’t he?’ Answer: In a way, yes. God will not interfere with our free will. As we read the Genesis story, we find that Adam and Eve, like most three year olds, decided that they wanted to do things themselves. They chose not to be part of God’s plan because loving obedience was getting in the way of what they wanted. By their choice they rejected and changed God’s perfect plan. After this, God told Adam and Eve that their rebellious choice had damaged the very DNA of paradise so that even the very earth was affected. [This still happens with us today.]

“Question 5: ‘So, why doesn’t God fix it if he wants the world to be like Eden?’ Answer: HE IS! Jesus came to save us from evil, sin and suffering and to show us how to make choices for Eden. Once I complained to God about the way things were and asked him why he didn’t fix it. After quoting several of the “Where were you when I…” verses from Job, he plainly asked, ‘Why don’t you? The answers to that took me on a journey of discovery.

“Question 6: ‘How can we, as apprentices of Jesus, choose to be part of the Eden Plan?’ Answer: We already know. We know that we need to show up in the Garden to be with God for fellowship. We know that we need to choose to be loving, forgiving and healing people—to care for the widow, the orphan and the poor. We know that we need to take care of the earth. We know that we need to be transformed into the likeness of Jesus by choosing to continue our spiritual practices while living in community—practices of Eucharist, of prayer, paying attention, etc., hanging in and hanging out with Jesus in good times and bad, spending time listening to his hopes and dreams, sharing ours, by loving our neighbor as ourselves, being and making apprentices of Jesus and by helping to make God’s dreams come true.

“There are many stories of loving acts of mercy and heroism after major tragedy. Some say that love is the answer to this brokenness and that we must fight evil and darkness with love and light. True, if we remember that the LOVE and LIGHT we seek to share is Jesus. Pondering Question: ‘What would happen if we chose to love every day with the power of the Spirit as Jesus showed us?’ Answer: We would begin to bring the Kingdom of God to the places where we are and begin healing the broken DNA of God’s plan.

[We would, as we promised at our baptism, continue in the Apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in the prayers. We would persevere in resisting evil, and whenever we fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord. We would proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ. We would seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbors as ourselves. And we would strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being. We will do this with God’s help.]

“We would bless, forgive, heal, and take care of the poor, the suffering and each other. We would use our free will to make these choices and then follow through. We would become a light on the hill and a house of prayer for all people as God desires, and we would invite others to join in.

“Until God’s plan is restored, we will pray, work and give for the spread of the Kingdom and remember that Romans 8:28 tells us that God will work good from what has been meant for evil if we hang tight and trust the ONE who calls us.” ~ Soul Food, Sept. 2012 (revised)

 

Spirit Fruit

“…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. There is no law against such things.” ~ Paul, Galatians 5:22-23

This month is the last that I have planned on writing about the Holy Spirit. I can’t say with certainty that it is because I hadn’t intended to write about it at all. If you remember six months ago, I said that this was an assignment of the Holy Spirit, given to me when I was asking what I should write for the month. God said to tell my story and when I asked what part of my story and started typing, “Holy Spirit” appeared in the autocorrect on my tablet. I wasn’t writing anything at all that should have triggered those words. I tried typing again with the same results. God wanted me to tell you about my experience with the Holy Spirit which I have tried to do but only in part. If all of my experiences were written down, I wouldn’t finish.

Most of the stories I shared about the Holy Spirit were rather spectacular. They are part of my witness – events that God did in my life through the power of the Spirit. But then the works that Jesus did, and still does, through the power of this same Spirit are often that way. This month, I want to tell you about another function of the Holy Spirit which is growing fruit. What? But wait.

First, I have a third story to tell – rather spectacular, also – signs and wonders of the Kingdom of God. These are old stories which I have told before, so you may remember them. These three stories were turning points for me in my relationship with God. The first was the miraculous healing of our infant daughter from which I learned that God heard my prayers and answered them. The second story came from reading the Third Step of Alcoholics Anonymous that a person (I) needed to turn my life over to the CARE of God as I understand him. Before this, I struggled with trying to turn my life over to the WILL of God of which I was somewhat afraid. Alright, terrified would fit. Care I could do.

This is the third story. Once upon a time my husband gave me gold ball earrings after a rough patch in our marriage. I loved them. This day I wore them to work and I kept touching them. The last time, I realized that one was missing. I looked around my desk, in the bathroom, in the trash can, in the work room and in my car, but I couldn’t find it. I asked Jesus to please tell me where it was so I could retrieve it. I heard nothing.

That night, as I liked to do when Dave was on a business trip, I was reading late in bed. I decided to call it a night and went to the bathroom. When I came back to bed and started to get in, something sparkled on the sheet. It was my earring. Wow! I could have decided that it fell out of my clothes or something, but I noticed that the back to the earring was still on it which would have been impossible because it fell out of my ear. So. Jesus picked it up for me and dropped it on my bed, intact. Thank you! I learned from this that Jesus loves me and that he cares about the everyday things I care about. I needed to know that and I still believe it. I call these three events my touch stones because if I should doubt for a moment that God is Love I can remember these “stones” and know that it’s true.

Now to fruit. Having the fruit of the Spirit is the work of the Holy Spirit which we receive when we live the life of the Spirit. Anyone remember diagraming sentences in English class? Try that one. Let me explain. The “fruit” which I listed above and St. Paul talks about in Galatians 5 is contrasted by works of the flesh when we are not living by the power of the Spirit. Paul says that “the works of the flesh are obvious. They are idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these.” – Galatians 5:20-21. We are not to have these. In the early days of the Charismatic Renewal, there were what we sometimes called “fruit inspectors” because these people would look at others to see if they were growing fruit. If not, they assumed, the person inspected didn’t have the Holy Spirit. Not so, by the way. We probably all were a little like fruit inspectors which might have been okay had we been inspecting our own self for such fruit instead of others.

The Fruit, by the way, is a work of the Holy Spirit which grows in us as we live the Spirit filled life. It is not automatic. In all truth, we can’t attain the fruit like we would go to the grocery store and buy some. That fruit is already grown and no longer attached to the plant, but it had to be in order to develop. So, where does that leave us if we can’t grow this fruit on our own and we need to have it? Good question! As the fruit stays attached to the plant until it is developed, so do we as we grow fruit. You know where this is going don’t you?

Jesus says, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower…Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. ~ John 15:1, 4-5. In verses 16-17, Jesus says, “You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.” The fruits of the Spirit are not something that we just hang on to and admire. They are to assist in loving others as Jesus does.

So how do we abide in Jesus? Jesus spent much time alone with his Father. If we follow his example, and we try to do so, paying attention in silence with Jesus is our answer. We begin and end here. Prayer. Words are not necessary. Listening is. Sometimes we hear God. Sometimes we just feel God. Sometimes neither. But we are there, anyway, with him. Attached. To the Vine. Growing fruit. Have you ever tried to grow spiritual fruit on your own? Take patience. Really, take it. We make jokes about it, praying for it or not praying for it less we get to try practicing it. We try to be patient. And we can’t seem to get there. Why? Because that is not our job. That is the job of the Vine. So, if this article is about the Holy Spirit, what does the Spirit do here?

The Holy Spirit is the “glue” that helps us stay attached.

Let this prayer resonate in you:
God for us, we call you Father.
God alongside us, we call you Jesus.
God within us, we call you Holy Spirit. ~ Unknown

My Story – Stickin’ to It

“Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed.” ~ 1 Corinthians 12:1

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in every one. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” ~ 1 Corinthians 12:1, 4-7

Though we received the Holy Spirit at baptism, we don’t recall or were never informed that something powerful was happening or even supposed to happen. Remember, Jesus told his disciples to “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” ~ Matthew 28:18-20. Then He told them to wait for the Holy Spirit to come and bring power which happened at Pentecost with blazing tongues of fire. The scared, trembling ones rushed into the streets and started telling the story of Jesus in words they did not know and which those who hurried to the scene to observe the goings on heard in their own language.

The masses were amazed and a little confused. They thought the disciples were drunk. Peter assured them that they were not and told the crowd that what was happening was prophesied in the book of Joel. (“Then afterward I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.” – Joel 2:8) Three thousand people were converted that day. Those who welcomed his message were baptized and they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

Speaking in tongues and interpreting them, along with the gift of teaching in power are three of the gifts of the Spirit. The New Testament (1 Corinthians 12:8-10; 1 Corinthians 12:28; Romans 12:6-8; and Ephesians 4:11) contains several lists of spiritual gifts most authored by St. Paul. While each list is unique, there is overlap. Listed are words of wisdom, words of knowledge, faith, gifts of healings, miracles, prophecy, distinguishing between spirits, tongues and interpretation of tongues, apostle, prophet, teacher, helps, administration, serving, teaching, exhortation, giving, leadership, mercy, evangelist, pastor and teacher, wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear (wonder) of the Lord. Each of these gifts are for the common good as Paul says above. Also, in another place, he says that the purpose of the gifts are to equip the saints for the works of ministry so that the body of Christ may built up. ~ Ephesians 4:11-12.

The early days of the Charismatic Renewal were exciting times and we all wanted to know what our gifts were and how God was going to use us. Different spiritual inventories were developed to help people discover what we had been given. Those inventories are still available, but over the years I have noticed spiritual gifts in people that are not included in the inventories. I’ve noticed that, sometimes, even if a person’s gift is obvious to everyone around them, they might not see it as a spiritual gift because when they took the test, it didn’t show up. Inventories are only a help. What the Holy Spirit gives is entirely up to the Spirit, and one gift may be stronger than another at various times as the Spirit moves, and it may not be on any list.

Back to my story about the Holy Spirit. I promised I would tell you about my experience with tongues. I was told to expect it when I received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. (There were some excesses with this controversial gift in the early Charismatic Renewal. Some taught that if you didn’t speak in tongues, you hadn’t received the Holy Spirit – so not true, and it caused a few problems.) St. Paul said that he wished everyone would speak in tongues, but he would rather that all would prophecy, given his choice. I expected words I did not know to come tumbling from my mouth as on the day of Pentecost. It didn’t happen. I wasn’t sure if I was disappointed or not. I decided, after a while, that I was. But still nothing came. Once in prayer, I finally said, “Since nothing is happening and this is supposed to be one of the gifts of the Spirit, I’m just going to talk and it will be up to you to figure out what I’m saying.” Did I really say that? Yes, I did.

And there you are. Being a gentleman, God doesn’t force us. What comes out of our mouths is up to us. It is a good language for prayer. Of course, if blazing tongues of fire fall on your head and you need to speak to the multitudes, you better do that. You probably won’t be able to help it. Only once, have I really spoken in tongues out loud in a group meeting. At that time I felt I was chasing something away that wasn’t supposed to be at the meeting. Discernment of spirits is one of my gifts. Discernment, in general, is my strongest gift. Knowledge is strong also. I know things that later have been proved to be true. I usually only pray in tongues under my breath during healing prayer with someone, or when I can’t still my mind when I am having private prayer. That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.

I have other gifts, too. Everyone does. Administration was strong years ago. But it is much less and teaching has taken its place. Prophecy, wisdom, faith and healing are others. I could tell many stories. I have and I will again. As I have been thinking and writing about gifts, I realized that some seem to have been natural gifts given at the time of my birth. The Holy Spirit has given power to them. Some are entirely supernatural. I write about my stories often, so if you haven’t heard them before, you will, guaranteed. If you don’t know what some of these gifts are and want to know, just ask.

Whatever the Spirit gives us and then empowers us to use, it is important to remember that the Spirit comes to grow our relationship with God, give us the ability (power) to follow Jesus, for building up the body of Christ, the church, for service to others in the church and outside of it – and for cooperating with God in ushering in and strengthening the Kingdom of God on earth today. “Go, make disciples, baptize, and teach to obey.”

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” ~ 1 Peter 4:10

A Mighty Wind

(Part Four)

“While staying with them, he [Jesus] ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. “This,” he said, “is what you have heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” ~ Acts 1:4-5

“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.” ~ Acts 2:1-3

It is amazing what I remember as I try to complete the writing on the Holy Spirit that God assigned. There is so much that I don’t have room to tell.  However, this may be the start of a pretty good outline in case I ever do write that book.

Last month, I neglected to tell you that when I was confirmed, it was under a tornado warning. Planes were grounded and the Bishop had to drive down from Atlanta, so my fear made perfect sense when my mother-in-law said that when the Holy Spirit gets hold of a person, it is like a tornado has slammed into them.

Did God cause all the darkness that I had in my life?  Of course not.  The darkness was already there.  God only called my attention to it so that I would begin to heal. I have said that my idea of God was skewed and I needed that to change so I could grow closer to him.  God, however, was with me and provided help, ways out, and things to learn for my spiritual growth that I might not have been able to receive otherwise. Even in the pit, God is always with us and God is always good.  What God does with our mess is always good, too, but it took me some time before I really believed that.

First, I had to know that God really cared about me. One day I noticed that Step Three of the Twelve Steps reads, “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.” My understanding of God had begun to change, but I was not sure that I was ready for what God’s will might be. I might have to go to Africa. But, this Step said I was to turn my life over to the CARE OF GOD, not Will of God. Care of God, I could do. Because of the miracle of our daughter’s healing, I learned that God heard my prayers and cared for me.

After a renewal weekend at St. Stephen’s, we became involved in a small group at church where we studied, prayed together, and took care of each other.  Things moved along and I got closer to God. I sang in the choir and community was very important to me.  I couldn’t imagine life without it. However, one day I came home from church, and thought, “There must be more to it than this.”  Strange thought.  Hmm. I know now that it was God calling.

Some people at church began to talk about the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.  Some talked about speaking in tongues and laying on of hands for healing.  I already knew that God healed but Holy Spirit baptism and tongues, um, no.  We had grown up being taught that the Holy Spirit was only active until the Bible was finished and was not for today. We were taught that speaking in tongues was from the Evil One.  I don’t know where that idea came from. But I began to watch these people. They had something I wanted, so eventually, I decided that I would have hands laid on me for this Spirit baptism.  I had all kinds of expectations about what physical manifestations might occur when the Spirit came.  There were stories. I was a bit nervous but I wanted what others had and what God wanted to give me.

What happened when hands were laid on me for this Baptism? I didn’t think anything had. I didn’t feel differently. I did notice that I couldn’t get enough of reading the Bible and my usual fiction reading gave way to reading books about God and the Holy Spirit, about Gifts of the Spirit and of healing. I was very interested in the spiritual gifts that the Spirit was to give, especially healing – because of the miracle. I wondered what my gifts might be.

We were in the process of building a new church and parishioners put in a great deal of sweat equity. One night, my husband and I, along with our Priest, his wife and a few more, stayed late to work. After, we had gone to dinner. While we stood at the counter to pay our bill, our Priest started to collapse.  We got a chair for him to sit in and called an ambulance.  A strong thought (God?) came to me, “You need to lay hands on him and pray for healing.”  WHAT? Me? “If you don’t he will die.” I couldn’t take that chance, so scared, timid, not very sure of myself-very new to Holy Spirit stuff, little me-walked over and very unobtrusively, laid my hand on his shoulder and whispered a healing prayer.  By the time the ambulance came he was fine but they took him to the hospital for a check.  As his wife left, she turned to me and said, “Did you see that one whole side of his faced sagged for a bit? I hadn’t. It took me a few weeks to “fess up” to what I did.

Well, what about tongues? What happened? I am going to write about the gifts of the Spirit next month so stay tuned. I have a few more stories, too.  After all, that’s what the Holy Spirit directed me to do.  “Tell (my) story.” But for now…

We receive the Holy Spirit at Baptism – “Sustain them, O Lord, in your Holy Spirit. Give them an inquiring and discerning heart, … p.307, Book of Common Prayer. This is renewed at Confirmation – “Strengthen, O Lord, your servant N. with your Holy Spirit; empower him for your service; and sustain him all the days of his life. Amen” p.309, BCP.

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit happens when we ask for it, give our consent for God to use us as he chooses, with the power for ministry that the Spirit gives us. This may happen at our confirmation. We already have, with our baptism, all of the Holy Spirit.  How much of us does the Holy Spirit have?  That is the real question.

Wait. “.…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” – Acts 1:8

A Mighty Wind

(Part 4)

While staying with them, he [Jesus] ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. “This,” he said, “is what you have heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” ~ Acts 1:4-5

“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.” ~ Acts 2:1-3

It is amazing what I remember as I try to complete the writing on the Holy Spirit that God assigned. There is so much that I don’t have room to tell. However, this may be the start of a pretty good outline in case I ever do write that book.
Last month, I neglected to tell you that when I was confirmed, it was under a tornado warning. Planes were grounded and the Bishop had to drive down from Atlanta, so my fear made perfect sense when my mother-in-law said that when the Holy Spirit gets hold of a person, it is like a tornado has slammed into them.
Did God cause all the darkness that I had in my life? Of course not. The darkness was already there. God only called my attention to it so that I would begin to heal. I have said that my idea of God was skewed and I needed that to change so I could grow closer to him. God, however, was with me and provided help, ways out, and things to learn for my spiritual growth that I might not have been able to receive otherwise. Even in the pit, God is always with us and God is always good. What God does with our mess is always good, too, but it took me some time before I really believed that.
First, I had to know that God really cared about me. One day I noticed that Step Three of the Twelve Steps reads, “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.” My understanding of God had begun to change, but I was not sure that I was ready for what God’s will might be. I might have to go to Africa. But, this Step said I was to turn my life over to the CARE OF GOD, not Will of God. Care of God, I could do. Because of the miracle of our daughter’s healing, I learned that God heard my prayers and cared for me.
After a renewal weekend at St. Stephen’s, we became involved in a small group at church where we studied, prayed together, and took care of each other. Things moved along and I got closer to God. I sang in the choir and community was very important to me. I couldn’t imagine life without it. However, one day I came home from church, and thought, “There must be more to it than this.” Strange thought. Hmm. I know now that it was God calling.
Some people at church began to talk about the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. Some talked about speaking in tongues and laying on of hands for healing. I already knew that God healed but Holy Spirit baptism and tongues, um, no. We had grown up being taught that the Holy Spirit was only active until the Bible was finished and was not for today. We were taught that speaking in tongues was from the Evil One. I don’t know where that idea came from. But I began to watch these people. They had something I wanted, so eventually, I decided that I would have hands laid on me for this Spirit baptism. I had all kinds of expectations about what physical manifestations might occur when the Spirit came. There were stories. I was a bit nervous but I wanted what others had and what God wanted to give me.
What happened when hands were laid on me for this Baptism? I didn’t think anything had. I didn’t feel differently. I did notice that I couldn’t get enough of reading the Bible and my usual fiction reading gave way to reading books about God and the Holy Spirit, about Gifts of the spirit and of healing. I was very interested in the spiritual gifts that the Spirit was to give, especially healing – because of the miracle. I wondered what my gifts might be.
We were in the process of building a new church and parishioners put in a great deal of sweat equity. One night, my husband and I, along with our Priest, his wife and a few more, stayed late to work. After, we had gone to dinner. While we stood at the counter to pay our bill, our Priest started to collapse. We got a chair for him to sit in and called an ambulance. A strong thought (God?) came to me, “You need to lay hands on him and pray for healing.” WHAT? Me? “If you don’t he will die.” I couldn’t take that chance, so scared, timid, not very sure of myself-very new to Holy Spirit stuff, little me-walked over and very unobtrusively, laid my hand on his shoulder and whispered a healing prayer. By the time the ambulance came he was fine but they took him to the hospital for a check. As his wife left, she turned to me and said, “Did you see that one whole side of his faced sagged for a bit? I hadn’t. It took me a few weeks to “fess up” to what I did.
Well, what about tongues? What happened? I am going to write about the gifts of the Spirit next month so stay tuned. I have a few more stories, too. After all, that’s what the Holy Spirit directed me to do. “Tell (my) story.” But for now…
We receive the Holy Spirit at Baptism – “Sustain them, O Lord, in your Holy Spirit. Give them an inquiring and discerning heart, …” p.307, Book of Common Prayer. This is renewed at Confirmation – “Strengthen, O Lord, your servant N. with your Holy Spirit; empower him for your service; and sustain him all the days of his life. Amen” p.309, BCP.
The Baptism of the Holy Spirit happens when we ask for it, give our consent for God to use us as he chooses, with the power for ministry that the Spirit gives us. This may happen at our confirmation. We already have, with our baptism, all of the Holy Spirit. How much of us does the Holy Spirit have? That is the real question.

Wait. “.…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” – Acts 1:8