A Life and Death Matter of the Spirit March 01 2017, 0 Comments

Photo Credit: Ryan Klinck

A Life and Death Matter of the Spirit
The Active Presence of the Holy Spirit, Week 1

By Adam White

March 1st, 2017


“Theology is truly a matter of life and death.”

This is what my then-professor, Dr. Joerg Rieger, said to all of us students on the first day of our Systematic Theology class at Perkins School of Theology in the fall of 2012. My immediate reaction was thinking – “I don’t think I signed up for the right course…I wonder if there is enough time to still swap classes. I hear Prayer and Spirituality is being offered this semester.”

However, Dr. Rieger had a point, as he usually always did. And, by the way, I still have trouble calling former professors by their first names, so bear with me here.

Dr. Rieger’s point was that our faith, what we believe and how we act in accordance with those beliefs, informs life and death issues that affect us all. Our faith is not passive or isolated to only a specific institution, community, prayer, or worship service held once a week. Our faith is a daily invitation to go out into the world and explore how God’s presence in the Spirit is at work within our institutions, communities, prayers, worship services, and all the life and death moments we endure.

Life in the Spirit is recognizing God’s presence in the struggles, joys, successes, pains, and other human emotions or experiences that connect us to each other as parts of God’s creation.

If we look in John’s Gospel, we find that the Spirit is indeed wrapped up in dealing with life and death issues. Later on the same day that Mary Magdalene had seen the resurrected Christ at the tomb, Christ then shows up in a room full of grief-stricken disciples and says,

“‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained’” (John 20:21-23).

God created us equally able to be guided by the Spirit. However, just because God created us equally does not mean that we, with our limited and error-prone tendencies, always treat one another equally. So, thank the good Lord, made flesh in Jesus Christ, and manifested in the Spirit, that we have a divine presence that surrounds us throughout our existence. This divine presence yearns for us to follow God in ways where loving equally and caring for others flows naturally.

The Holy Spirit moves through our deepest grief, even through the dark corners of death, and asks us to go out into the world and be breathing agents of God’s peace and forgiveness. This invitation to be sent out sets our task as we seek to serve with one another as a missional people. We are called to missionally offer peace and forgive others as much as we are to receive peace and forgiveness from others.

Over the next ten weeks we invite you to come along as we bear witness together to the personal, communal, missional, and life and death piercing divine breath, that we know as the Holy Spirit.

Invitation to Missional Mindfulness:

  • How have you experienced the Holy Spirit in life and death moments?
  • Where do you currently sense God's Spirit calling you to follow?


Last Week: View the Wisdom for the Way Archives 

Next Week: "The Dance"

Spotlight: Missional Imagination in Action
By: Rachel Wells

Photo Credit: http://www.wfaa.com
Missional Imagination is one of the most popular, most talked about courses in Missional Wisdom Foundation's online learning program,Launch & Lead. In this course, students are encouraged to actively look for places in which God is already breaking into the world, and ways in which they can join in and continue that work. It is my privilege to be married to the instructor of the course, the ever-eloquent Dr. Bret Wells, so I hear about Missional Imagination often. Bret and I also talk with our children daily about finding ways to see Jesus at work and in others.

For awhile now, I have been thinking that I should write about the Missional Imagination that I have seen in a teacher at the elementary school that my children attend. While her efforts are not overtly stated as missional, I see her exemplify a missional imagination at work daily.

Then recently WFAA news got wind of Cindy Matthews' story, and it was shared again by Good Morning AmericaInside Edition, and other news sources: 

"Cindy first shined her light during a rainstorm a couple of years ago. 'It was raining for like two weeks straight,' she said. The students were gloomier than the weather and she wanted to change that. 'It just popped in my head -- "I think I wanna put on an inner tube."’ That was all it took to bring a flood of smiles. So she kept going."

I remember that day well. And she was so right! Getting everyone ready for their day and out the door on time in the mornings is a lot of work. It is not unusual for kids to get to school (and parents to get to work) with a few arguments already under the belts. Doing it all in the rain makes things even harder. But then as we pulled up to the front of the school, Ms. Matthews was out in the pouring rain, helping kids out of cars while wearing a bright pink inner tube. You couldn't help but forget the morning's frustrations and leave with a smile. That morning, though she doesn't say it in these words, Ms. Matthews saw God breaking through and joined him in his mission of morning smiles.

When I see Ms. Matthews on the street corner with her crossing guard's stop sign, smiling and dancing at every car that drives by (whether there are kids in the car or not), I am reminded that the ways God is breaking into the world are many. Where do you see God at work? Are you willing to join? And as asked above, "Where do you currently sense God's Spirit calling you to follow?"

Read/watch WFAA's full article here.

 

 

Reports from the Spiritual Frontier podcast series continues to interview Missional Wisdom staff. Tomorrow (Thursday, 3/2), Ben will interview Justin and Lisa Hancock. Justin and Lisa will talk about their work with The Julian Way and intentional community for all of God's expressions of physical embodiment, disabled and non-disabled.

Like Reports from the Spiritual Frontier on Facebook or subscribe to them on iTunes to hear the podcasts. Be on the look out for more members of the MWF staff to be featured in the near future!

 

**Receive Wisdom for the Way directly in your inbox each way, but signing up at bit.ly/WisdomWay