Saturday, August 15, 2009

"Grounded" in the Holy Spirit!

This is a repost of a Note from Joanna Caldwell on Facebook. Healing IS taking place in the life of Faith Church. Amen.

The Holy Spirit and Coffee
At the GMA Conference, I was introduced to the best coffee ever: "Land of a Thousand Hills" coffee. I'd never had coffee two days after it was roasted before! The aroma was deliciously tantalizing and it tasted every bit as wonderful as it smelled. It's also coffee with a conscience and not just because it's "fair trade" coffee where the workers receive a living wage. This coffee is evidence of the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit! Coffee? Yes! The flyer I picked up at their table tells the true stories of two young women whose families were brutally hunted down and murdered during the 100 days of genocide 10 years ago by a man named Jean. The country was so devastated by the violence that when everything was over, the government turned to churches to bring healing and reconciliation. Through the love of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit working through them, these two young women FORGAVE the man who massacred their families and now they are working side by side with him growing coffee beans. So as I drink this coffee, I'm thinking about the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit and I wonder, if these young women and the hundreds of others like them, can forgive the people who murdered their families, how can we have any excuse to refuse to forgive each other for canceling our favorite church programs, changing the style of worship, hurting our feelings, or anything else? Jesus told us to forgive our brothers (and sisters) without limits. We have been forgiven much, we have no grounds to refuse to forgive fact, just the opposite, my coffee grounds remind me that by the power of the Holy Spirit, anything is possible.

Reposted with permission.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Full Court Press

In my last entry I related that I was having a hard time dealing with repeatedly bouncing between good and bad news about Faith; struggling with the realities of power and money in the church; and discerning if I’m called to be an Elder. I even found myself searching for other churches. Well God was doing a full court press on me last Saturday and Sunday. Three things came together that have started to put things in perspective.

First on Saturday, I started reading the Book of Order. Over and over again, it stressed the sovereignty of God, and the call to unity as a church in mission, worship, and fellowship; all the while stressing diversity and openness to the continual reformation of a church and its people.

Secondly on Sunday I felt a strong pull to attend the contemporary service at Big Cove. Not necessarily seeking a new church but just to see what was there. Well it was apparent I was meant to hear their message that day! They had just started a series on Acts and happened to be covering Chapter 2 about Pentecost and the Holy Spirit. They talked about the transformative power of the Spirit to change people in ways they could never hope to change themselves. They talked about the need to expect and look for this power to change the circumstances of any problem.

Thirdly I went on to attend Faith’s Sunday service. It was a wonderful service! Being Disability Sunday, the focus of the worship was on the abilities and disabilities we all have. The sermon text, John 4:5-27, was about the Samaritan woman at the well. Despite the woman’s many “disabilities” of sin, infidelity, prejudice, and ignorance, Jesus patiently ministered to her. He ministered to the tiny point of faith she carried, "I know that Messiah is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us." (John 4:25)

It was at that point I couldn’t help but realize the disabilities we at Faith are experiencing right now! The disability we all have of wanting “our” service, “our” church, back rather than seeking the presence of the Holy Spirit in God’s worship and church. The disability of disharmony and disunity we are all experiencing as we seek what we want rather than what God wants for us. The disability those of us that “see clearly” have when we are fed up with those that “don’t see” and we all discount the power of the Spirit to transform all our visions and actions into His plan. Disabilities just like any others that need to be met with love, making way for the transformative power of the Spirit.

These three have come together in my mind as a sort of Trinity. The Book of Order, particularly Chapter 3, informs us about God’s plan for the Church. The Disability Sunday worship demonstrates our brokenness and Jesus’ unfaltering love for us that we are supposed to imitate. The Pentecost message tells us where the power comes from that will transform us into the church God wants us to be.

Pretty amazing to experience all that in one weekend!

What is your tiny point of faith?

Friday, August 7, 2009

A Difficult Day of Discernment

I have been struggling to figure out if I am being called to become an Elder at Faith Church. It is evident in the many previous entries in this blog that I have tried to see both sides in our conflict and keep my eye on where God wants to direct us. I go from positive days to negative days regularly and with increasing frequency. Today was a difficult day.

Today I received more evidence that we are a divided congregation. The details are irrelevant, they are the same issues that have plagued us and seem not to want to go away. It’s just that when you try to stay focused on the positive and then the negative jumps back in view it hurts all over again. I suppose today could be described as a Scrooge moment. The way ahead appeared very clear and bleak, unless we do something to change that. That something must rely exclusively on our dependence on God. Yet the ponderous weight of earthly power seems stacked against experiencing that dependence.

At the same time as I am struggling with the call, I also find myself searching the web for another church. I wish I could say this was for research purposes to see how others are doing things; I cannot. I was searching for a place to go.

It sometimes seems clear that if I cannot find enough faith in Faith’s future to accept a call to be Elder, then it is time for me to move on. Other times, if I put my faith in God, it seems I need to stay and accept the call. That is difficult, because I’m not sure if that is to see Faith through these tough times and keep pointing to God on the way or is it to help others see God’s grace in hospice as we wither away.

And to make this decision even worse, the time to make the decision is either before or just after we anticipate getting an interim Pastor. Just like God to force the decision to be made in faith and not based on visible evidence.

I have many more thoughts and questions. But I’ll lay those down at His feet for tonight and try to get some sleep.

Today was a difficult day.