As I begin to get to know my new community, both the people here and the culture and geography and ethos, I look for signs of seeking. I hope to be open to the ways in which, as church, we translate, live out and embrace the gospel, how our walk, our ways and our welcome communicate our hope. I also look for those Christians I will minister with who themselves 'seek' - seek God, his presence, his empowering and a deeper knowledge of him.
This calls for a kind of self- and other-people consciousness as I try to analyse our direction, people's passions and vision.
We all leak.
Or in other words, those things about which we most speak (or if we are more introverted) about which we most think, are those things that most preoccupy us. Now, of course, there is the stuff of life that we can not control, our responsibilities to work and family and friends and community. We have a certain amount of control over these things, but often we do not. I guess it is how we go about engaging in these areas that we can ask God to impact. I think the extent to which we need the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit can never be underestimated. To live out a 360 degree faith, each aspect of our life can go through a necessary releasing and surrendering to God as we seek his wisdom for how each aspect should be governed: the attitudes we bring to each and the people we're to do life with there; how we both might grow and optimise the flourishing of others in all of those contexts.
As we approach Pentecost and our awareness of God's gift of his Spirit becomes something to which we naturally turn, the lectionary guiding us there, I find myself having conversations and praying prayers for the presence of the Spirit in my new community, for God to show me in whom His Spirit is living powerfully here. I know that very little will happen without prayer. Something will happen and be sustained for a while but for God's plans to come to fruition, we must seek him very intentionally, which must at least begin by speaking with him and hearing from him in prayer.
While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?"
They answered, "No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit."
So Paul asked, "Then what baptism did you receive?"
"John's baptism," they replied.
Paul said, "John's baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus." On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all (Acts 19:1-7)
As twenty-first century disciples I wonder ... we have to learn again to wait, to listen, to become empowered for his mission and what it might look like.
On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit."Acts 1:4-5
After meeting to discuss worship last night, I woke up and had a vivid sense of it being Christmas. I soon remembered I was in May and laughed but the feeling stayed with me. It feels as though over the next few weeks and months I am to unpack a series of gifts which is a discerning of the gifts that God has given his people here, in this new community, whose vision I am privileged to facilitate as their vicar. I feel like a small child with a hundred presents at the end of the bed.
Can't wait to uncover these beneath the wrapping paper of my community:
Teaching - Romans 12:7, 1 Corinthians 12:28; Eph 4:11
Ministering - Romans 12:7; 1 Corinthians 12:28
Administration or leadership - Romans 12:8; 1 Corinthians 12:28, Heb. 13:7; 1 Thes. 5:12-13; 1 Corinthians 13:2
Evangelism - Ephesians 4:11 (2 Timothy 4:5 - Timothy did not seem to have this gift)
Pastor - Ephesians 4:11; 1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-90.
Exortation - Romans 12:8
Giving Romans 12:8
Showing mercy Rom 12:8 (relief of sick and needy)
Helps - 1 Corinthians 12:28; 2 Timothy 1:16
Faith - Romans 12:3-6; 1 Corinthians 12:8-10
Apostleship - 2 Corinthians 12:12, Heb. 2:4; 1 Corinthians 9:1; Act. 14:14, Phil. 2:25
Prophecy 1 Corinthians 12:28; 14:3; 14:29; Romans 12:6
Agabus - Acts. 11:27-28; 21:10-11
Barnabus, Simeon, Lucius, Manaen - Acts 13:1
Daughters of Philip Acts 12:9
Judas and Silas Acts 15:32 (as well as Barnabus and Paul)
Miracles - 1 Corinthians 12:28; Acts. 13:11
Healing - 1 Corinthians 12:9, 28, 30 (see Acts. 5:12-16, Acts. 8:13, Acts 19:11-12)
Tongues Acts 2:1-13 (Joel 2:29); Act. 10:46; Acts. 19:6; 1 Corinthians 14