Wow! All I can say is...WOW!
Worship this past Sunday was one of those services when I felt that the Holy Spirit was doing some important work in our midst. From the moment the praise team began to sing I knew that this service was going to be something special. But, to be honest, we were all freaking out a little bit beforehand. Our drummer, bass player AND keyboardist were all out sick with a stomach virus (we are praying for your quick recovery!) That left our guitarist, Emily, on her own, and our three vocalist, Jay, Don and Jackie. I know that the praise team was nervous...we were going acoustic.
Our music director, Jackie, jumped into action and switched out a few of the planned songs. Bob Allen volunteered to play the keyboard without any rehearsal. And then we prayed just before beginning for the Holy Spirit to be present. We knew that it was all in God's plan. And God did not disappoint us. Our music that morning was truly anointed. God was so present among us...I couldn't stop crying. I kept thinking to myself, "How am I going to preach?" Tears were running down my face, but I needed so badly to feel God's presence around me. And God was there.
It's moments like these when we realized that God is so much bigger than we can imagine. While I firmly believe that we each hold a spark of the Divine within us, it isn't until we all come together with the same mind in unity of purpose that the spark within us ignites and spreads like wildfire. The Holy Spirit is depicted in conflicting ways in our gospel stories. Sometimes the Holy Spirit emerges as a peaceful dove...like she did at Jesus' baptism. Sometimes the Holy Spirit shows up as a flame of fire, as in the day of Pentecost. Peace AND Fire...two images we don't always know how to reconcile.
Celtic Christians chose the wild goose as a symbol representing the Holy Spirit. A wild goose is one noisy, bothersome bird. I like this image of the Holy Spirit as a wild goose because it jars us out of our complacency. Sometimes the Holy Spirit comes to us in peaceable ways, sometime with a roar of fire to cleanse us, sometimes just squawking loudly to get our attention.
My sermon theme was, "Home Improvement" and I felt that the Holy Spirit greatly improved our worship on Sunday. The Holy Spirit stripped down our music and instrumentation so that we could be quiet before God and...Listen. Grieve. Cry. Heal. Just be. As we improve our home to be the place where people can be exactly who God created them to be, we have to learn to let the Holy Spirit do the work of healing. Healing comes from forgiveness. Forgiveness comes from letting go, and letting God show up. We may only experience this unique expression of God on occasion, but that's not because God can't or doesn't want to show up. Sometimes the Holy Spirit just needs to get our attention.
Okay, Holy Spirit. You got my attention. Now, what do you want to say? I'm listening.
Holy Trinity Community Church, listen with me. Let's prepare our hearts for God to show up every time we are together. AMEN!