Spiritual Spontaneity

August 5, 2014

Spiritual Spontaneity ~ Lillian Daniel

As they were going along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?” He commanded the chariot to stop, and both of them, Philip and the eunuch, went down into the water and Philip baptized him.  From Acts 8:26-40

Today, if someone wants to get a baby baptized, they first call our church and check some dates against the church calendar. Then they may call around to family, godparents, and friends to see who might be available for the brunch. Perhaps next they see if the baby fits into the pre-purchased little baptismal outfit, and if he or she suddenly looks like a ten-pound sausage in a five-pound bag, the might choose that earlier date. But it all takes a lot of planning.

Unlike the early church leader, Phillip, I have never been stopped by a eunuch and talked into performing a baptism on the side of the road. But I think it might be good for me.

Churches are complex institutions. They have rules and procedures and calendars, and we don’t need to apologize for that. That’s how we weave together the fabric of community, and make possible our communal worship of God.

But we must never let the rules and regulations become the object of our worship. If the winds of the Holy Spirit can’t blow through them, the fabric is knit too tight.

Healthy churches have room for the questions: “What is to prevent me?” and their leaders are careful not to answer that question too quickly with a list of things like bylaws, our traditions, or the schedule.

If we can hold our tongues when the new comer asks, “what is to prevent me?” we might find ourselves realizing that indeed the Holy Spirit is trying to blow through us with a little spiritual spontaneity. And we might say, “Well, why not?”

PRAYER: God, what is to prevent me? What is to prevent me from doing the thing I have not yet imagined? Well, why not?. Amen

Taken from the United Church of Christ devotional, God Is Still Speaking: 365 Daily Devotionals, ed. Christina Villa (Cleveland: The Pilgrim Press, 2013), 229.

 

 

Consider Breaking the Law

July 23, 2014

Consider Breaking the Law ~ Christina Villa

He heard a voice saying, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is profane or unclean.” The voice said to him again, a second time, “What God has made clean, you must not call profane.” This happened three times…While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Now get up, go down, and go with them without hesitation, for I have sent them.”  From Acts 10:9-23a

Peter is hungry. He has a vision and hears God tell him what to do: “Get up, Peter; kill and eat.” Wait a minute Peter says, I’m not going to just kill any old thing and eat it! That’s against the rules, and apparently even having God tell him it’s OK – not once, not twice, but three times – isn’t enough for Peter. He’s still “greatly puzzled” by what he’s heard. What could it mean? What should he do about it? He’s still thinking about it later, when the Spirt, sounding exasperated, has a job for him to do, but has to prod him into action: “Now get up, go down, and go with them without hesitation for I have sent them.”

Sometimes we get so used to following rules that our obedience to them gets in the way of our obedience to God. Sometimes we follow rules in order to avoid challenge or risk. In the process of staying safe, and perhaps congratulating ourselves for being good rule-followers, we never do anything that might be considered divinely inspired – or even very important to us. In this scripture, Peter actually refused to do what God tells him to do – he tells God, “By no means, Lord” – because he’s let the rule become his god. But God is changing the rules here, as if to illustrate the old saying that rules are made to be broken.

What “rules” are you busy following while the Spirit is repeatedly trying to make you “get up” and do something else, something you were meant to do, something God has in mind for you?

PRAYER: Thank you for never giving up on trying to get my attention. Amen.

 Taken from the United Church of Christ devotional, God Is Still Speaking: 365 Daily Devotionals, ed. Christina Villa (Cleveland: The Pilgrim Press, 2013), 218.