That was a phrase in a conversation I just had about church.
I wish I could say I don’t know what he means. I’m afraid that what we are missing is a true experience of the Holy Spirit. People long for true connection in a church service – not just with God, but with the people around them. Are we expecting too much of those couple of hours on a Sunday morning? Are we not expecting enough?
This isn’t exactly the post I’ve been considering writing. I’m hoping to write something more about “worship” in church services (including and beyond singing), but this conversation has thrown me a bit. See, I’m sort of used to having these sorts of conversations with people who’ve been around the church for a long time and who are a little jaded or frustrated by a continued apathy or cultural faith-expression. But this guy’s new to it all and already is saying something is missing. I suppose I was naive to assume that ‘non-churched people’ would immediately warm to some kind of supernatural-ness and other-ness of a church service (that is if they don’t find it all just weirdly alien and frankly a bit cuckoo…).
The conversation was flowing in and out of this guy’s desire also to experience a sort of miraculous ‘sign’ or proof of God’s existence. An audible voice, a dream, writing on the wall… Not an unfamiliar desire for many of us, not least me. And there I am, hearing in my mind’s ear, Jesus’s warning about those who seek for signs and wonders not really believing even if/when they get them and that, therefore, signs and wonders aren’t necessarily all that.
And yet, and yet.
And so here I am, “verbally” processing this question, this longing to know more deeply, to experience more profoundly, the power of the Holy Spirit in the life of my church community, in the life of my friends, in the life of those around me.
Is there at work a spirit of separation, though? God created us flesh and bones. Do we seek to escape the nature of who and what we are? These clothes of flesh that wither and fade, that are weak and dependant on so many external things. Is our desire for a more ‘tangible’ experience of the Spirit a gnostic trap, where the bread and wine of daily, bodily living in faith seems dull and frankly a little bit too messy to be palatable. If that is partly true, then where does the good part begin?
I wrote a little while ago about dynamite, and I suppose these thoughts are linked with that too. Jesus didn’t come as a super hero, the Iron Man… he came as a baby who presumably had to be potty trained and taught how to say “Father” before he was able to apply those words to anyone. In our hurry for ‘signs’, are we ignoring the miracle that is breathing in? And then breathing out? In our longing to see ‘wonders’, are we ignoring the miracle of someone picking up the bible and finding its ancient stories relevant to today?
In grasping for the beyond, are we missing a beauty in the “ordinary”? We were created to be human, perhaps the Fall means that we are no longer satisfied with that
And yet, and yet.
Any thoughts anyone?