What Stephen Hawking did for the Big Bang and Black Holes, someone needs to do for the Holy Spirit. Someone needs to write A Brief History of the Holy Spirit in order to make a mind-blowing story more accessible to us mere mortals. The Spirit has a long and tumultuous history. It goes all the way back to God
There you have it: the four elements of worship that we have to be careful to include in every worship service. As you can imagine, that leaves a lot of room for trying new things, because there are a thousand ways to include them. For those who are nervous about change, rest assured that we are committed to going back to the heart of worship, back to the foundation stones or our communal life together: the teaching, the fellowship, the breaking of bread and the prayers. And before we pray, we're going to sing the song, Heart of Worship.
For a few centuries at least, the Christian Church was the counter-cultural movement in the Roman Empire. The Church completely redefined family. For perhaps the first time in history, people who were unrelated by blood were now sisters and brothers by faith. Reading these verses I got to thinking, if the church could redefine what family means in the first century, why can't we redefine it in the 21st century?
Another reason that we don't ask for the healing we need is that we get used to the holes in our souls, don't we, just as the man had gotten used to his disability. He had a routine. His life was arranged. And he didn't go around asking for healing because he didn't even consider that he could be healed. After all, he'd been this way from birth. It was the only reality he knew. Being able to walk and leap was beyond his conception and not many of us know how to ask for what we cannot conceive. Sometimes the healing we really need is something we can't conceive. Call it a disability of the imagination.
This Jesus society didn't follow the rules. It didn't kowtow to the rulers. For Jesus showed poor people that they didn't need the patriarchy. They didn't need the monarchy. And they didn't need to fear the authorities. Now everyone knows that that kind of talk starts revolutions. The temple priests got anxious to arrest Jesus because they were afraid of the Romans and didn't want any trouble. So what did they do? They answered their fear of violence with more violence. They killed Jesus and they would have liked to do the same thing to his followers, too. But Peter and John were acting out of a different set of rules. They responded to the violence of the crucifixion with acts of healing and compassion. That's what we read in the Book of Acts.
Right now, I wish we had a festival like Timkat. In general, I think Protestantism could use a few parades. But I don't think three days are nearly enough to celebrate our baptism, because I can't begin to imagine the rest of life without it. Ethiopian Christians know that baptism is a very big deal and that one way or another life will teach us to remember our baptism every single day and be thankful.
In order for Saul to get to the second half of life, to get from the road to Damascus to the Way of Jesus, he had to do what Rohr calls "discharging the loyal soldier." Just as soldiers today often have difficulty leaving the military, Paul had a hard time taking off the uniform that he had been wearing and the strict rules that he had been following. And we do, too. Those of us who try to discharge our own loyal soldier find that we have to question everything we had always assumed to be true, and that can make us feel as if our whole world is collapsing around us. And we wouldn't be far from the truth. This is our first step on the "further journey," one that Rohr warns us we will experience as a setback. It will feel like a loss: a loss of faith and a loss of self.