Monday, May 20, 2013

The Holy Spirit Does Not Tweak Around the Edges

Our pastor delivered a grand Pentecost sermon.  He focused more on the Holy Spirit and how the Holy Spirit works in the world.  We didn't really hear much about the early church--or the later church.

My favorite bit:  The Holy Spirit is not to content to tweak around the edges.  The Holy Spirit does not politely observe the speed limits set by congregations.  The Holy Spirit may not even admit there's a road to be followed.

It was also Confirmation Sunday, and our pastor encouraged the Confirmands not to worry about bringing back the Church of the past or even preserving the Church of the present.  He encouraged them to lead the Church down the path for which the Holy Spirit will equip them.

I thought about us all, sitting in our suburban church, with Confirmands at the front.  I thought about the larger institutional Church.  I thought about the first Christians who both worked within the institutions of Judaism and created something very new.

They probably felt much the way I do:  excited at the possibilities, and apprehensive of what may happen.  Did they feel apprehensive about what might not happen?  Did they feel abandoned?  Even though Jesus promised that he would not leave them orphaned, I imagine that some of them felt quite orphaned.

As a young woman, I hated Paul's letters.  Now, as a woman in her middle years, I find them oddly comforting.  In them, I realize that the early church, so often held up as ideal, faced all the problems we have now:  difficult personalities, differing agendas, diverging visions.

I don't feel the attachment to the church of the past as some people do.  I like the current church which is wrestling with issues of diversity and decline.  I know that the church of the past was not in decline because so many people were smothered or shut out all together.

I could be happy to leave the current church behind too.  We spend a lot of time navigating personalities and dealing with issues of buildings that were created for a different time and people.  I could be happy to follow the Holy Spirit elsewhere.

I'm sure it would be somewhere I could never have imagined.  And when I face the exhausting process that faces us to fix the roof, that vision looks very attractive.

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