I’m becoming a believer in the Holy Spirit.
No, I don’t mean I’m becoming Pentecostal or charismatic. I tested those waters several years ago, and, while I think there is much good to be found in those streams, I didn’t find them as sustaining as other currents of Christian tradition.
And I don’t mean I haven’t actually believed in the Holy Spirit until recently. I am Trinitarianly baptized, after all. I confess the Apostles’ Creed. Hey, I even sing the Doxology at least half a dozen times a week.
Rather, what I mean is this: I am increasingly trusting in the work of the Holy Spirit in the individual lives and communal life of God’s people.
This is not an easy thing to do. It’s risky. It’s unmanageable. It doesn’t often bring instant results. And those results are not always what I think they should be.
But that’s just faith, isn’t it? So try taking that precarious and persevering faith and trusting in the One who blows like the wind in the trees, when you can’t tell where he comes from or where she goes.
No, it’s not easy, this believing in the Holy Spirit.
According to Paul, though, all who confess Jesus as Lord have the Spirit of God at work in them (1 Cor 12:4-13); all who are in Christ have the Spirit of Christ in them, shaping them into the image of Christ (Rom 8:9-17, 28-30). And together, collectively, we are assured that “in the Spirit” the Church is being built together into God’s dwelling place (Eph 2:21-22; 1 Cor 3:16).
Do we really believe this? Do we actually trust the wind-blowing Spirit to work in us and among us in these ways?
Or do we try to minimize the risk and maximize the instant results, managing God’s work through tight-knit programs and sure-fire methods?
What if we just got God’s people together and let the Spirit work? Do we really trust the Spirit to spark conversation and story-telling and dialogue, listening and learning and love, moving us toward Christlikeness?
Our family has re-started an old Mennonite tradition: Sunday Faspa. It’s just a simple, cold meal on a Sunday evening, buns and cheese and jam and pickles and whatever else like this you’ve got on hand, maybe topped off with a cup of coffee and a plate of Platz. We’re opening up our Sunday Faspa to the church, inviting a few people to join us each week. Actually, they’re signing up to join us: maybe that’s a little weird, but it seems like it will work.
This past Sunday we had our first Faspa, and it was an unqualified success. Along with our family we had teenagers and octogenarians, church folks and one who doesn’t normally attend our church. The food was terrific, the stories were delightful, the peach Platz was perfect.
And my favourite snippet of conversation, overheard from the other end of the table as we were sitting down?
“I’ve seen you at church, but I’ve never talked to you before.”
And so the Spirit blew among us, and a new work of grace was begun.