(In The Life Of The Church)
I've probably said about 50 times in sermons over the years that I grew up in a charismatic church. People often say to me, "that's right you grew up Pentecostal." I used to try and correct them, but I stopped. No one cares about the theological nuance and difference between your average community church with an emphasis on the gifts of the Spirit and a Pentecostal church. To them it's all the same and had I not grown up in the church I did, I'd probably see it that way as well.
This Sunday is Pentecost. That's the day we read from Acts chapter 2 and are reminded that our western suppositions about what's normal may not be completely normal. I would think, that growing up the way I did, Pentecost would be one of the highlights on the church calendar for me. And it is. But I sometimes avoid preaching it. In fact, this is the eighth time I've been a preacher on Pentecost and including this Sunday I've managed to preach it only five times.
I think that's in part because it's difficult to preach about the Spirit even if you think you know the Spirit intimately. My friend Brian preached at UBC one time and said, "you don't get the Spirit, the Spirit gets you." I think that's right. The Spirit can't be controlled and the movement of the Spirit is unpredictable. In this regard it's difficult to say what we know about the Spirit because the Spirit is better experienced than talked about.
Still there are lots of things we can say about the Spirit. One of my favorite theological books that I've ever read is a book about the Holy Spirit: Flame of Love by Clark Pinnock. To give you an idea of the scope of the ministry of the Spirit I'm going to include his table of contents below.
1. Spirit & Unity: The face of the Spirit in the communication of the Holy Trinity.
2. Spirit in Creation: The Spirit as Lord and giver of life, who touches creation and moves it toward completion.
3. Spirit & Christology: The Spirit anointed Jesus of Nazareth to heal human brokeness from the inside and bring about atonement.
4. Spirit & Church: The Spirit indwells the church and is present sacramentally and charismatically to endow it for mission.
5. Spirit & Union: The goal of salvation is to live in loving union with God and to participate in the triune nature through the Spirit
6. Spirit & Universality: God desires all to be saved and is found graciously present with every person in every place by the Spirit.
7. Spirit & Truth: The Spirit leads the church into truth along the path of mission enabling it to be timely and fruitful in ministry.
I'm sure other books on the Holy Spirit might add a point or two and others might subtract, but you get the point. The Spirit has a critical role in the life of the believer.
And yet, for some reason, it has always struck me that the church has struggled to relate to the Spirit. In a conversation with friends the other day we were trying to remember scriptures in which the Spirit is the recipient of the prayer. If you include the jussive cases of speech you might have something. In talking with Jamie this week we identified a few songs in which the Spirit is addressed. But again ... we rely on the Spirit for so much, both as a church and individually.
I get the skepticism. Holy Spirit people can sometimes be weird and unthoughtful. Both of those attributes can do damage. And yet I sometimes find myself longing for the church at large to do a better job of engaging the Spirit. I'm just not entirely sure what that would look like.
When I was little I went to a children's church camp and prayed to receive the gift of tongues. I was praying with words I knew and then I began to utter ones i did not. My "prayer language" is just a few syllables. Since that moment I've gotten a seminary degree and become much more skeptical ... even of myself. Here's what I know. I know that I've amended my theology many times. And yet God never seemed more or less available based on my right theology. What I've learned from this is two things. My theology is not perfect right now and my imperfect theology has never kept God from relating to me. Included in my working theology is my prayer language. I'm not entirely sure what to think about it other than God in His generosity has consistently met me through it. Perhaps in the same way he meets some of you in the act of gardening and others in walks on the beach or in the woods.
One time I preached my ambiguity in thinking regarding this gift of the Spirit. In that sermon I said I was unsure how to read 1 Corinthians 12 and 14. I suggested that perhaps you can't find biblical grounding for a prayer language. My friend who has Ph.D. in New Testament disagreed with me. I was glad he did.
I do think the Spirit gives gifts like that, gifts that can make church a crazy unpredictable place. I also think the Spirit gives us gifts that make the church a completely predictable and safe place.
I've also shared in a sermon another formative Holy Spirit moment. One time I was struggling with this idea of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Some people say tongues are evidence of this, others call that into question. With that debate in my head I approached my charismatic father and asked him how do you know if someone has the Spirit. He told me, "They are teachable." The more I grow in the Spirit the more that seems true.
Pentecost is the day when all that crazy stuff started happening. Pentecost is also the day when real discipleship became possible. It's the day when the church became teachable. I'll conclude by leaving you with a quote from Stanley Hauweras's book War and the American Difference that speaks to this point.
"The gift of Pentecost entails slow, hard work. We must not only learn to suffer one another as Christians; we must learn how to suffer others whose stories might make us vulnerable. Indeed the gift of Pentecost is but the beginning of hard and painful lessons in failure. Yet even failure turns out to be a gift if through failure the church is reminded that others are included in God's promises. At best the church learns to receive the stories of different linguistic communities and in the process discovers that our own speech requires constant revision."
Meet Our Newest Leadership Team Member
I currently work for Baylor University in the Department of Multicultural Affairs. I also supply preach here and there, and mentor a covenant group at Truett.
I use the "can watch over and over" bright line
Which somehow lands me with.....
The Step Up movies, RENT, Pirates of Penzance, and While You Were Sleeping
Yeah, I don't know.
Best Restaurant in Waco:
Homestead Cafe, no question
Bible verse/chapter/book that has been meaningful to you:
Philippians 2 has always been a favorite, but I found a new fondness for it after a summer working for a camp that used The Message version of the passage for a lectio divina exercise.
At Truett, I took a Hebrew Reading course on Lamentations. After spending a couple of months translating the most depressing, disturbing book, I got to Lamentations 3:22-24. I had seen it on greeting cards and that kind of thing, but I had never realized the context. It sits in the middle of this crisis of a book and offers this incredible hope.
Best television show:
This is a cruel question.
West Wing, Parenthood, Friday Night Lights, The Wire, Grey's Anatomy, Sports Night, Newsroom
OH,and So You Think You Can Dance
Thanksgiving, or whichever one is next
Something you might not know about me:
I love cats. A lot.
I rearrange my schedule around the Women's College World Series, the Little League World Series, and the Olympics. I had a newborn last Olympics, which was great because I was home all day and could watch all of it. I was also sleep deprived enough to watch the same events re-air, and be confused enough to think I had gotten really good at predicting the winners. It was an excellent confidence boost.
Children's Ministry Info from Emily
It's that time of year again! If you have a child who is currently in the Roots class or who will be entering 1st grade next year, mark your calendars! On June 5th we will hold our annual Roots Camp-In Sleepover to welcome our new Roots kids! We will kick off at UBC at 6pm Friday evening and have fun together until 9am Saturday morning! Dinner, snacks, games, crafts, movies, breakfast and awesomeness will be provided...but they will need a sleep stuff and toiletries! More information will be provided later, but feel free to email Emily at email@example.com if you have any questions! Thanks!
The Summer is coming quickly and many of the college students (and faithful volunteers!) are headed home for break, but our UBCKids are staying put! I know that no one wants to do the math this late in the school year, but I'll go ahead and tell you...it means we need some more help! If you are interested in helping out with kids over the Summer, we are organizing volunteers now and we would love to have you on our team! Please email Emily at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information! Thanks!
A Call for Artists (of all kinds)
Jamie is mulling over some future projects for the community that would enlist the use of art.
If you are a visual artist of any kind, and are interested in creating things for UBC, we want to know! Please contact Jamie (Jamie@ubcwaco.org)
Empty Nester Event
Our next empty nester event will be next saturday, May 30th, at the Haines house. Fajitas will be provided. Please plan on bringing a side, dessert or drink to share. If you would like more information please email email@example.com.
As you might suspect maintaining our volunteer base in the summer is difficult for 2 reasons. 1. A large percentage of our students leave and 2. schedules even for those who live here full time become very erratic. In that regard we are looking for summer volunteers. I've identified three areas of ministry that we could use your help.
1. Greeters: Greeters serve the mission of UBC by offering a friendly hello, answering questions for visitors and helping people find rooms and other connections when needed. If you are interested in serving as a greeter please email Maxcey @ firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. Coffee Makers/Mug Cleaner: CM's and MC's serve the community by providing tasty coffee and clean mugs and carafes for serving coffee in. if you are interested in serving as a CM or MC email josh @ email@example.com.
3. Children's ministry: Children's ministry workers serve our community by teaching #champions4thelord about Jesus. We have opportunities at all age levels. If you are interested email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Work is Worship
Greeters: Haylee Loudenslager
Mug Cleaners: Haines Family
Shutdown Team: The Blue Flames
Sunday Sermon Text: Acts 2:1-12. Please be in prayer for our friend Liz Andrasi who will be preaching this weekend.
Summer Sunday School Begins June 7th
Grills and Chills will take place at the Carney household on the evening of June 10th. Put that on your calendar. More information to come.
Waco dives will start this June. More information to come. Please email email@example.com if you have any questions.
UBC Summer Party Jun 28th ... more information to come
Do you have an Emergency? Do you Need to talk to a Pastor?:
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